Mad Cow Case Study : Crisis Communicaitons
Helping National Groups Adopt New Strategy

Email Alerts for Dangerous Air Quality

There is a growing number of states and regional agencies attempting to communicate risk of bad air, water, wind chill , virus outbreaks, whatever. Here is an example of the NC Air Listserve.

These are very cool services. State science folks are trying to get the word out that air is dangerous. Environmental groups should be picking up on all their hard work and connecting them with your members and campaigns. States (and the public supported alert system) can not make the important connection between bad air and coal energy plants, trucks, SUVs etc. They can not say 45 children in our city are going to have a terrible time breathing today because the energy industry has failed to "voluntarily enforce laws". They can not connect the dots between policy and effects. The state will not say that people are sick because AAA, the auto industry and energy lobbiests use your map and fees to lobby for more roads and against fuel standards. However, you can help people connect the dots.

Step 1. Sign up your entire staff and active volunteers to receive the alerts.
(go ahead and give the state everyone's email addressees,,,they wont sell them and they could find them if they really wanted to.)

Step 2. When an alert comes clip the most important points and drop them into your own group's alert.

--- Make sure the alert from your organization includes the advocacy components the agency folks can not include in "official" messages.

--- Include links to important legislation, voting records on important bills, actions people can take.

--- How about someting like ..."Your government suggests you stay indoors today because of bad air quality. are five things you should do because you can't play outside."

Step 3. Build entire campaigns around these free warning systems. How many unhealthy days did you have last year? (American Lung Association) Build a campaign that says you will spend that many days working on nothing but "air" issues. Develop Bad air day drills include special campaigns to visit people in the hospital, sponsor "open gym days" with local fitness centers (attracts members and highlights the problems) work the media. Focus on the policy failures that have put us in the current situation.

Remember, this style repackage of government information works for beach closures (ocean, lake or river), bad air days, flood reports and food and drug recalls. There are systems that will monitor for changes in a web page and email you when it changes. (Watchthatpage) So all you need to do is keep it pointed at agency warning pages , press page, etc. and you have your system set.

Get your email system set to handle outreach (groundspring, graphicmail, etc) and your are ready to roll.

Please feel free to add tips and tricks in the comments section.