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Adapting to the storm: Perspectives on hurricane response from county, university, and military leaders

How do we motivate people to opt-in? – Part one

In my last post, I discussed the “What’s In It for Me?” question every emergency manager should consider when encouraging team members or citizens to “opt-in” to an emergency notification system.


In this post, I am drilling down a couple of examples that apply specifically to our state and local division customers, but the concept can also be applied with minor tweaks to any customer trying to drive opt-in participation.


Once an opt-in page has been posted and the initial early adopter group has made its way to the portal, phase two begins – this is the longer process of driving the larger user base to take action.


It would be great if every citizen understood the benefits of participating in an opt-in program and each proactively entered their contact information, but that is simply not the case. Most citizens wait until their house is on fire, the flood is bearing down on them, or the tornado has been announced, and at that moment, decide it would be a good idea to get into the “What should I do?” notification stream provided by emergency management.


In order to communicate the availability of the program, there are public advertising options such as press releases, public service announcements, flyers, and posters. These general advertisements will be helpful but not overly motivating. You must continue to expand your efforts, and in the best case scenario, will have local organizations do the PR work for you, effectively generating grassroots support and free program promotion.


So how do we motivate people to opt-in since we have previously agreed they will not typically do it for their own best interest?


Program 1 Outline:


An active and growing group that needs notifications about various things is clearly the senior citizen population. This is also a group that may not have access to technology or be comfortable with it. Senior citizens have specific needs for information and want to get it, but lack familiarity with many online registration processes that a younger generation understands.


The solution? Go grassroots and get your program, support, and information where the seniors are. Consider the local senior center your newest team member. The senior center has a ton of information to communicate to its visitors. From flu information to social activities to exercise reminders – here is a group that would love to be able to send messages to their members specifically.


Why not offer senior citizen communications programs on your opt-in page, and in turn, offer access to those who ask for specific information to the leadership at the senior center? It is a win/win. The senior center gets a free tool to communicate with its visitors, and you get the senior center talking directly with the senior citizen population, promoting its opt-in, and in many cases, providing the place and support to opt-in right at the facility.


In my next post, I’ll look at a second program that you can use to promote your emergency notification system and opt-in program.

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