Monday, January 19, 2009

Homeland Security: Be prepared!

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Ready Campaign, in partnership with The Advertising Council, is introducing a series of new social media tools to further engage Americans in taking steps to prepare for emergencies. The initiative is an extension of Resolve to be Ready in 2009, a nationwide effort designed to encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to take action and prepare for emergencies in 2009.

The social media tools will engage Americans in taking the three simple steps communicated in the Ready Campaign: (1) Get an emergency supply kit; (2) Make a family emergency plan; and (3) Be informed about the types of emergencies that can happen in your area and their appropriate responses.

At the center of the initiative is a new Web page, "Be Prepared," which features an interactive widget that provides users with updates on emergency situations, local emergency contact information, an instructional video, emergency kit checklists and guidelines on how to better prepare for an emergency. Users can also access a clickable map to find contact information for state and local government agencies, where they can learn more about specific emergency information in their communities. Additionally, the widget helps users stay up-to-date on the latest Ready activities through Twitter news feeds (by following the user name "ReadydotGov"). The widget can be posted to social networking profiles, blogs, wikis and personal homepages.

The program also includes a tool with which visitors can create their own comprehensive Family Emergency Plan and share important information with their family and friends. Furthermore, visitors are encouraged to share their story on preparedness by submitting a video to the Ready Campaign Video Blog. The new Web page can be accessed by clicking on an online banner on the homepage of, the Ready Campaign website.

"These new interactive tools and resources will allow the Ready Campaign to engage even more individuals and families and help them build their emergency plans that they can then in turn share with their families," said Ready Campaign Director Erin Streeter. "These tools will makes it easier for Americans to access important federal, state and local emergency information that can be critical in an emergency and in the planning process."

DHS and the Ad Council will distribute a series of new online banner ads to promote the effort in the coming weeks. Outreach will also be conducted on social networking sites and blogs. There will also be an "I Resolve to be Ready" badge that users can post on social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. Additionally, new materials will be developed and outreach will be conducted during key times of year, such as hurricane season and National Preparedness Month.

"During the last six years, our Ready Campaign has been very effective in communicating the importance of taking steps for a possible emergency," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "By integrating the latest technology and social media strategies, we will engage even more Americans in our critical messages and further the reach and impact of the campaign. This initiative provides individuals with the tools they need to make an emergency kit, develop and share a family emergency plan and stay informed about possible emergencies."

By making the decision to Resolve to be Ready in 2009 and following the simple preparedness steps in advance, Americans will minimize the impact of emergencies on themselves, their family and their businesses. By visiting or calling 1-800-BE-READY, individuals can access free materials that will help them make and keep a new year's resolution that will bring their families peace-of-mind.

February 2009 will mark the Ready Campaign's sixth year at the Department of Homeland Security. Launched in 2003 in partnership with The Advertising Council, Ready is designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. It has proven to be one of the most successful campaigns in Ad Council's more than 66-year history. Since its launch, the campaign has generated more than $756.5 million in donated media support. Individuals interested in more information about family, business and community preparedness can visit

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
Putting principles before profits