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Happy SAAM Planning!

By Michelle Schaunaman, Outreach Coordinator at TESSA & CCASA Blogger

Are you ready for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)?

You have the event planned, you wrote the press release, and you’re waiting for the freshly printed materials to arrive. All you have to do is show up, press send, and open that package of materials, right?

Wrong! (Insert game show buzzer sound here.)

There is much more to do than just plan, send a press release, have the materials, and hope people participate.

Here are a few things I’ve learned planning SAAM Events:

  1. Assess if what you’re doing is worth the time and effort
  2. Make it easy and fun to participate
  3. Follow-up and follow through
  4. Use social media, online calendars, and networking
  5. Develop local news media connections

These five steps can help take your awareness events to the next level and should help you cultivate community connections.

  1. Assess

Last year, I planned six SAAM events for TESSA (an impact-driven organization that assists and supports survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence in Colorado Springs). Yes, six events.

I took the “throw spaghetti at the wall and see if it sticks” approach. This is not recommended. I figured only two or three events would stick. They all stuck.

The one good thing that came out of this approach— I was able to discover which events we wanted to pursue. After assessing time, funds, staff power, and community connections, the decision was to stick with Denim Day.

Denim Day was the quickest event to develop, brought in the most funds, took less staff hours, and created lasting community connections.

  1. Make it easy and fun

Whether participating in Denim Day USA, the Colorado Denim Day, or the TESSA Denim Day, it’s fun and easy.

Removing roadblocks to participation is key. Asking people to donate a few dollars, wear an item of clothing they often already own, and giving them promotional materials removes a lot of roadblocks. It’s easy to participate.

Fun is the other element. It’s fun to wear jeans to work. Also, it’s fun (and easy) to post a selfie in jeans and see the “likes” pop up on your screen. The participant receives instant satisfaction. The point is it creates exposure for the organization and meets the needs of the participant.

  1. Follow-up and follow through

It’s important to follow-up with participants throughout the process. This builds a connection with the participants. It makes them feel special and appreciated. Stop by for a visit with the organization that’s hosting a Denim Day and mail them a Thank You note, or like that #DenimDay selfie.

Follow through is just as critical. If you say you’re going to do it, then do it. Don’t say, “I’ll give you posters” and not bring posters. This sends the message you don’t care or you’re unorganized. Delivery (or follow through) will make the organization or participant more likely to work with you in the future.

  1. Use social media, online calendars, and networking

If you don’t have a marketing budget, social media, online calendars, and networking should be your best friends.

A cultivated social media platform is necessary to promote your event. Building your following beforehand (by liking, sharing, retweeting, commenting) is crucial. If you don’t have a significant following, your message will likely not be seen by anyone.

There are many free online calendars that you can use to spread your message. Use these to promote your event.

Lastly, network! You know someone from a local university? Send them your Press Release. See if they can help you spread the message. Going to a community meeting? Casually let it slip you have an event coming up. Watch as people ask questions and offer to help.

  1. Develop local news media connections

You don’t need a marketing budget to be on the news. Be a consistent, timely, and reliable source for news media. Be genuinely interested in the people who interview you. Give them your card and send them individual Thank You notes or Press Releases. If you develop rapport with a reporter, give them “the scoop” first. It’s as much about a good story as it is about developing a working relationship.

Hopefully these tips will help you take your SAAM event to the next level. If not, always be thinking about your next move!

What’s the for-profit sector doing? What’s trending right now? Who’s my best contact? How can I improve?

Start networking and share your own planning insights below! Happy SAAM Planning!

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