|Who do you want to reach? Some messages apply equally to all audiences. Other messages are best addressed
to specific groups. The fact that storm drains are directly connected to streams, creeks and rivers is a ‘general appeal’ message, much like asking the public not to litter. Messages about conservation tillage are more effective with agricultural audiences, just as adults are more likely to make decisions about lawn chemical use. Targeting messages saves money
and time because you do not end up paying for messages ‘lost’ on an inappropriate audience.
What you want to say is your message.
Messages should be simple, short and easy to remember. They also need to be repeated or they will not be remembered.
Because 80 percent of the U.S. population is unaware that storm drains empty untreated water into the nearest creek,
stream or outfall, introductory campaigns need to focus on this message. “Only rain in the storm drain” is one example. Because other stormwater messages build on this simple fact, strategists should be sure to mix action messages designed
to change behavior with this simple awareness message.
Whatever your message, keep it simple. Trying to say to much in a given time often has the result of confusing and annoying message recipients. Effective messages are strong, simple and easy to remember: “Click it or ticket” and “Give a hoot,
don’t pollute” are good examples.
Where do you want to reach your audience?
Researchers know that delivering messages near the time decisions are made is effective. TV, magazines, the Internet
and newspapers reach into homes, travelers use highway signs and listen more to the radio, and signs in stores direct shoppers. Match your message to the medium most used by your audience when it makes stormwater-related decisions.
When do you want to reach your audience?
Decision-making time is good, but that might mean sending your message at a specific time of year, week or day. Does
your message concern something people do at home or in the workplace? For times of year, spring and fall are good times
to reach lawn fertilizers and summer is prime dog walking and car washing time. Agricultural erosion messages can be matched to planting times, just as spring cleaning can motivate community household hazardous waste drives.
Some media lend themselves to a given time of day: radio ‘drive time’ and TV ‘prime time’ are two examples. Take
timing into account when you deliver your message and when you choose the medium used to deliver it.
Why do you want to reach your audience?
It sounds like a simple question, but successful campaigns usually try to do one of two things: inform or persuade.
Campaigns that inform such as making residents aware that storm drains are directly connected to creeks and streams
and the sea - ask people to remember what they have been taught. Persuasive campaigns like most advertising request action from the audience. Messages about litter, pet waste, car-washing and fertilizer practices fall into this category.
Public service campaigns work best when they deliver action messages to informed audiences. It is easy to forget that
the general public is not as informed about stormwater as public officials and the professionals they work with daily.
Once audiences know why you are asking for changes in behavior and the benefits and costs that drive the change compliance usually increases. Mixing informative and persuasive messages on a 50:50 rotation within one media schedule
is also an option. It is important not to mix the two goals, however. Messages that try to do both, or too much of either, overwhelm or confuse audiences.
Surveys and questionnaires are one way to measure your audience; stormwater awareness. In 2001, a nationwide focus
survey conducted for EPA showed 80 percent of U.S. citizens were unaware that storm drains are attached to creeks,
streams and oceans. North Carolina will conduct its own stormwater awareness survey in 2005. Results will be made
available, at no cost, to Phase II communities. Until that information becomes available, however, it safe to assume
some part of your campaign should be information-based.