Outreach suggestions for International Year of Forests 2011
Forests 2011 is an unprecedented opportunity for forest-related institutions and organizations around the world to engage the public in a conversation about the vital roles forests play in our daily lives.
The theme for the year is Forests and People. Forest communication activities include raising awareness, educating or simply integrating a consideration of forests into any environmental or developmental debate, thereby helping people make the sometimes unexpected connection between forests and life as we know it.
You don’t need to be a large organization or have a big budget to engage in outreach activities. Strategies are as varied as the audiences you target and the messages you want to communicate. Activities can range from massive publicity campaigns to a talk at a local elementary school or a poster in a storefront window.
Following are just a few ideas to get you thinking about appropriate outreach alternatives for your organization.
- Create networks
Give structure to your contact lists. Build a database of consultants you have worked with, organizations that have similar goals to yours, or journalists who have written about you, and put them all on regular mailing lists.
- Formalize relationships
Work with what you have already. Consolidate relations with people or organizations with which you have successfully collaborated by making your relationship more official. Begin an exchange program, collaborate on an annual event, identify an ongoing project that you can cooperate on.
- Forge new partnerships
Approach an organization with which you have never worked before and explore means of interacting. Discuss how you can help them reach their goals and how they can help you reach yours.
- Publicise your organization’s mission
The mission and activities of even the most well known organizations are not always clear to the general public. Plan events that provide an opportunity to explain the work of your organization and how it contributes to healthier, better managed forests. Publish a newsletter that helps people understand what you do and why.
An important goal of Forests 2011 is to encourage those working outside forestry sectors to integrate a consideration of forests into their ongoing discussions.
- Policy makers
Forestry shouldn’t be discussed in isolation. The links between forests and other subjects must be underlined. Consider reaching out to policy workers in fields outside of forestry including environmental, developmental, sociological, cultural and economic fields.
Take a look at the curricula of the primary, secondary and tertiary schools around you. Do they incorporate the study of forests into their teaching? Offer to match your technical expertise with their experience in teaching to create a class or program covering forest issues.
Take the time to study your local media. How do they get their information? What formats do they prefer? How long is the typical article or video? Make it easy for media to pick up the information and messages you want to communicate. Don't wait for them to come to you. Pitch ideas to them when you have something to communicate.
Nothing stays with you like things you learn as a child. Even the briefest exposure to a subject can lead to a lifelong sense of connection. Think of where children go and what they like to do. These are good places to plan forest-related activities – a park, a zoo, a camp.
Since forests are, if not directly, at least indirectly related to nearly every human endeavor, it is not difficult to trace a line between most any business and forests. Businesses are interested in promoting a greener profile. Keep them updated on issues that concern them. Encourage them to integrate forests into their publicity or philanthropic work.
- Nature lovers
From sports enthusiasts to bird watchers, nature lovers rely heavily on the amenities offered by forests. Hiking or biking through the wilderness, studying flora or fauna, riding the rapids - any manufacturers or services who support these activities will have an interest in learning more about the roles forests play in our lives and are likely to help spread the word.