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Aug 17
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How to reach Millennial Students

By Ed Comeau

That is the question of the day (year, decade, century...?).  How to effectively reach today's students with information, particularly information that they don't know they need, such as fire safety.

I'm not going to pretend that I have all (or any) of the answers, but these are some things I have learned through reading, research and observing my two sons.
 
Let’s admit it, fire safety is not the first thing on student’s minds when they are at college.  There are a million distractions and they are bombarded with marketing messages. So, the issue is one of getting their attention and getting them involved…getting them engaged.
 
The Problem

  • Fire safety is not a priority to many students (are you surprised? You shouldn’t be!)
  • Administration does not give enough time for campus fire safety training
  • Fire safety is competing with a lot of other messaging (drugs and alcohol use, sexual assault, personal safety, etc.)

So…How do you make your efforts stand out?
 
Some ideas

  • Opportunity: The fact that you are not given enough time and have to compete with these other programs is not a problem but a HUGE opportunity
  • Stand Out: This is an opportunity to make your topic stand out from the field by being creative.
  • Cool topic: You have fire as a topic…one of the coolest things.  What person does not like an opportunity to put out a fire?  What person does not like the chance to interact with fire fighters?  What person does not like to be on a fire truck?  Even the most jaded, or "coolest" student, in their heart, likes all of that.
  • Community Service: Students are into community service more than ever right now.  What can they do with you that would qualify as community service right alongside fire fighters?
    • Help to install smoke alarms (get to ride on a fire truck?) in high-risk demographics
    • Install residential sprinkler systems in Habitat for Humanity Homes
    • What else can you think of?
  • Learning by Doing: By engaging the students in DOING community service they have the opportunity to learn about fire safety.  There is no better way to learn than to have to do.
  • Creating Ambassadors: The students can become ambassadors for fire safety.

Some strategies

  • igot2kno: Use igot2kno.org as a training platform.  It is online and free.  You already paid for it so why not use it???
  • Multiple messages, multiple media: There is no “silver bullet” in delivering the message.  Use the internet, live demonstrations, email, text, Twitter, Facebook, contests, the student newspaper.
  • Social media: Go where they are, don’t expect them to come to you.  They aren’t going to.
  • Contests and sweepstakes: The prizes don’t have to be big and expensive (although that helps!)

Part of the problem is also crafting effective, sticky messages.  Coincidentally, there is a great book written on that very topic called "Made to Stick" that I strongly recommend.  It uses a simple acronym for the six steps to developing a sticky message...

SUCCES

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Stories

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