Special events such as street fairs, job fairs, health fairs, World AIDS Day
activities, and local celebrations in communities sometimes can deliver public
information to large numbers of people and can gain media exposure.
Community Involvement and Support
Community groups and organizations can play an important role in implementing special events. Libraries, schools, churches, businesses, or social groups provide leadership in communities and are able to pool resources and inspire citizens to join their efforts.
The types of events that can be organized are unlimited and can be as original and varied as the ideas and resources of the people organizing them. Networking can heighten the visibility of events, resulting in greater public awareness when interested persons are identified and contacted. Efforts can begin with one or more of the following types of organizations:
- Schools, colleges, and other educational organizations, such as local PTA chapters and nursing schools.
- Civic associations, fraternal organizations, social sororities, and clubs.
- Community-based organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Red Cross, the National Urban League, and the Young Men Christian Association/Young Women Christian Association (YMCA/YWCA).
- Neighborhood associations.
- Churches and other religious institutions.
- Businesses such as shopping malls, health and fitness clubs, drug stores, laundromats, bars, bookstores, and groceries where members of the target audience can be found.
- Media outlets such as newspapers, television, and radio stations.
Creativity is an important aspect of successful special events. A number of innovative ideas have been implemented across the country. For example, The Condom Resource Center whose goal is to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted disease, including HIV/AIDS infection, sponsors a yearly event entitled "National Condom Week." (See References for contact information.) To distribute pamphlets and condoms, information tables are set up in public areas and in more secluded locations for self-conscious people or people who are shy about sexual matters. Additional public events are staged, such as the following:
Planning Special Events
- A contest for prizes in which people design posters with condom messages.
- A contest to guess the number of condoms in the jar with the person with the closest guess winning the contents of the jar.
- An annual "media conference" for high school and college newspaper staff to provide accurate information and to encourage coverage of National Condom Week.
- Identify persons and organizations in the community interested in planning an observance or event.
- Consider what types of activities will draw the target audience to an event (e.g., different people may be drawn to music, dance, art, sports, celebrity events).
- Agree to sponsor an activity or a group of activities making sure that each will contribute to public information objectives with the designated target audience.
- Discuss resources needed, such as a guest speaker, financial sponsors, and publicity materials.
- Get members of the target audience involved in planning.
- Create a planning schedule and set a date for the activity.
- Delegate responsibilities for work by assigning persons to be in charge of specific aspects of the planned activity; put people in charge of location, special attractions, hospitality, publicity, and media according to their skills and interests.
- Develop a publicity plan to assure attendance; publicity is crucial for the success of any event.
- Decide on the most effective way to publicize the events, e.g., announcements in the media and at meetings, flyers, public service announcements, posters, or mass mailings.
- Track planning progress: use the planning schedule and publicity plan as a guide to make sure that the event is a success.
- Evaluate the success of the event by comparing the number of attendees expected with actual attendance; identify how many of the target audience attended and what they thought of the event; review media coverage and other publicity that supported prevention objectives; identify increased awareness of the program as a result of publicity (e.g., through pre- and post-event surveys); compare effort involved in developing the event with the value of the outcome.
Go to Resources and References