Did you know it’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week? What’s more, today is World Television Day and tomorrow is World Fisheries Day. Sadly, we missed our chance to recite from memory last week during World Nursery Rhyme Week.
Many associations organize awareness days or weeks for their profession, industry, or key issue. An awareness week helps an association fulfill its mission by:
• Educating the public about an issue, profession, or industry
• Inspiring people to join the profession or industry
• Advocating for change on an issue
• Celebrating the contributions of people in the profession or industry
• Fostering a sense of community within the profession or industry
How awareness weeks help associations achieve goals
An awareness week can also help increase awareness of and participation in your association’s education and career programs. Here are some examples to inspire you and your team.
Celebrate and build community
An awareness week is your opportunity to attract people to your website and show them the value of becoming a member or staying connected with you. It’s also a good time to remind members about membership benefits and give them something extra.
During Perinatal Nurses Week, the Association of Women, Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) hosts a series of special interest group discussions on Zoom called “Conversations for Change: This Week, It’s All About You.”
AWHONN’s awareness week home page includes a promotional blurb for membership and an easy-to-click “Join” button. The page links to member resources on the “Free to Me” page, including a “free gift” of convention recordings.
Educate target audiences about your profession or key issue
Promote programs and resources for your target audiences:
• Non-member industry professionals
• General public
• Students, recent graduates, young adults, and career changers
Design programs that appeal to the specific preferences of your target audiences, for example:
• Issue, profession, or industry explainer videos
• Podcast or video series
• Webinar series featuring members discussing a key issue or the profession, for example, lessons learned or their favorite aspects of the profession
• Digital badges for attending a series of skills-related programs
• Mentoring events or Ask Me Anythings
• Half-day or one-day conference
• Film festival
During Fraud Week, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners offers interactive investigation scenarios and encourages companies to “Invite a Certified Fraud Examiner” to talk to employees virtually on how to avoid common mistakes when preventing fraud.
Encourage workforce development
During Geography Awareness Week, the American Association of Geographers offers resources to help students discover the profession, including:
• Career information packets for high school guidance counselors and teachers
• Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas
• Free geographic information system (GIS) software for K-12 classrooms and youth groups
• GIS Day in the Classroom Implementation Guide
• GeoMentors who help students discover geography and spatial thinking to better understand the world around them
How to prepare for an awareness week
Design an awareness week brand
Design brand assets you can reuse every year. Create an abbreviated name to use as a social hashtag, for example, GeoWeek instead of Geography Awareness Week.
Develop templates and digital assets (logos, infographics, gifs) to share with members, industry employers, and other affiliated or related organizations.
Create special landing pages for different target audiences
In addition to the week’s main page on your website, create special landing pages for different target audiences, such as:
• Members and industry professionals—tease non-members with members-only resources
• General public or consumers
• Students, recent graduates, and young adults
• Career changers and military veterans
• Legislative and regulatory policymakers
Focus on one theme per day
During National Apprenticeship Week, the U.S. Department of Labor dedicates each day to a registered apprenticeship theme:
• Monday: youth
• Tuesday: new and emerging industries
• Wednesday: underserved populations
• Thursday: women
• Friday: veterans and federal employees
Go big on traditional and social media
Create a social media video challenge for college students. Or aim higher. During last week’s National Nurse Practitioner Week, members of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners were guests on the morning Today show. A member’s video on social media captured a group of NPs walking through Times Square after the show to view the huge screen lit up in their honor.
Invite people to take simple steps toward greater connection
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) offers several ways for website visitors to take action on World Diabetes Day, such as:
• Learning about and signing up for ADA’s diabetes lifestyle change program
• Sharing their diabetes story
• Signing up to be an advocate
• Submitting cover art for the Diabetes Care magazine
During Fraud Week, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) encourages both serious and fun activities, such as:
• Performing a fraud check-up at work and presenting the findings to executives—ACFE provides a proactive plan for remedying weak spots
• Experiencing the twists and turns of investigating a fraud case in a "choose your own adventure"-style interactive PDF
• Testing fraud knowledge with a 30-question Jeo-party PowerPoint game
The Association of Women, Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses hosts a virtual 5k.
Provide resources for industry employers and affiliated organizations
Make it easy for industry employers, industry partners, and affiliated and related organizations to join in the celebration by offering:
• Planning toolkit
• Guide to hosting virtual or in-person events
• Recap of programs offered last year
• Promotion toolkit with sample press releases, talking points, fact sheet, media interview guide, letter to the editor guidelines, and templates for event mailers and digital flyers
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners hosts an event calendar for awareness week programs offered by other groups. They also provide a sample document to help state organizations encourage their governor to issue a proclamation declaring their state’s support of Fraud Week.
How NOT to do an awareness week
In my research, I spotted a few awareness week campaigns that came up short.
Website real estate: an empty lot
After seeing an association announce their awareness week on social media, I went to their website to learn more. But the home page didn’t mention the awareness week, nor did any of the tabs. A pretty lame tweet to nowhere.
If getting space on your home page is a battle, connect the campaign with your association’s strategic goals. After all, you only need the space for a few weeks.
So-what press releases
An association press release announced the week but had nothing else to say, except boiler plate copy about the importance of the issue. Why should a journalist or others in your target audience care? How is the week making a difference for different audiences?
Lack of link
An association tweeted: “Calling all individuals concerned about [issue]! November is [Issue] Awareness Month, and it's time to take action. Consult an agent to explore your options and find the best [member product] for your needs.”
Nest time, try including a URL to a landing page about the issue or a directory of member agents.
That same tweet included two hashtags: one was the association’s acronym, and the other was an abbreviation for the issue followed by the word “awareness,” so imagine #ABC and #ABCawareness.
If your target audiences include students, consumers, or other industry outsiders, do you think they’re going to search for the association’s acronym or industry jargon? Use hashtags that make sense for your target audience.
When done right, awareness weeks give your members a chance to feel good about themselves, the work they do, and their professional community. These campaigns also help you attract the attention of people who might want to join your community one day. In industries struggling with workforce issues, an awareness week gives you a competitive advantage.