Division B - Printed Tools of Public Relations
Category 14 - Other
Hurricane Supply Kit Shopping List
Grace Resendez McCaffery, Escambia County Office of Public Information

Judges' Award

Research/Situation Analysis: Each year Floridians are warned to plan for Atlantic hurricane season that begins on June 1 and ends on November 30. Still recovering from the costly devastating affects of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Escambia County sought for ways to motivate residents to prepare for the 2006 hurricane season. Post-hurricane community meetings gathered area agencies that revealed that area residents, especially low-income families, were unprepared for another catastrophe and lacked motivation and resources to do so. To encourage residents to buy supplies for a potential disaster, an inexpensive and convenient solution was developed.

Objectives: To distribute 70,000 copies of the Hurricane Supply Kit Shopping List locally through at least 20 major grocery stores and utilize local media to include at least 6 radio stations, a television station and a major newspaper to promote and distribute and inexpensive guide to buy supplies for a “potential” disaster by May 21.

Implementation: The Hurricane Supply Kit Shopping List was designed to guide residents to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season by buying supplies a little each week (for eleven weeks) rather than all at once to avoid panic buying, empty store shelves, potential price gouging and expensive bulk purchases that residents with fixed or lower incomes might not afford, all while offering helpful safety tips. Designing the “Shopping List” began with listing items that are listed in most standard disaster supply kits. Together with the county director of the Department of Public Safety, the list was edited to exclude some unnecessary items and include other helpful items. Once these items were identified, they were divided by categories such as food, first aid items, tools, etc. which made up eleven weekly shopping lists. Assuming that most people would probably not follow the shopping list for the full eleven weeks, the lists were then organized in order of importance, listing the most needed items first. Items on each list were researched for price, verifying that families could shop for or otherwise obtain the main necessities for as little as $15 per week for a family of four. The items were listed as check lists. Each weekly list also included a safety or preparation tip that related to the items that were featured in each category. The material was not dated, so that it cold be used at any time. The list was printed in full color and on glossy paper to make it more attractive. It was also designed to fold to wallet-size.
Just before hurricane season began, the list was presented with a media kit to members of the press that attended a hurricane drill, a simulation of a category three hurricane, while members of the press were eager to find ways to work with the county to help the community prepare for a disaster. The media kit described the purpose of the list and gave additional information about each week’s topic and category of supplies and included 60-second PSAs for each week. It was explained to the media that for this project to be a success, every participating media outlet had to talk about the same topic simultaneously each week. The press agreed!
Beginning two weeks before the first day of hurricane season, and coinciding with the Florida Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday and National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 21-June 1), radio, television, print and Internet outlets urged residents to obtain a “Shopping List” and begin shopping for hurricane supplies. Shopping Lists were distributed at supermarkets, grocery stores, hardware stores, county offices, social service agencies, churches and community organizational meetings. Store managers and office managers were happy to involve their staff in the process. The demand for more lists required another print order.

Evaluation: About 100,000 copies (42% over our goal) of the “Shopping List” were distributed in at least 37 local stores. A PDF version was available on the county website and on the websites of participating media outlets. The list was translated into Spanish and published twice (14,000 copies) in the local Spanish language newspaper. The New York Times mentioned the shopping list in a report about hurricane preparedness on May 31, 2006. Nine local radio stations followed the weekly topics and reminded listeners to prepare for hurricane season and urged them to obtain a copy of the list at area stores. One local television station ran weekly spots on their morning, noon and evening shows for eleven weeks that featured information about the weekly topics and make the shopping list available for download on their website. Local organizations that discussed the hurricane season and preparation also distributed the list at meetings and in information packets. Those organizations include the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce, The United Way, Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies (BRACE), Florida Department of Health, and many churches. The list continues to be distributed at area events such as expos, festivals and trade shows. Neighboring counties have inquired about publishing a shopping list for their communities.

Budget: The cost of this project was $4,340.00 of 140,000 copies for printing (4.3¢ per distributed copy, not including web distributions). This project was not included in any annual county department budget in 2006, so the cost of developing the project had to remain minimal in order to “sell” the concept for approval. All of the design was done in-house and the printers agreed to print the shopping list at cost. A county employee distributed the shopping list to area stores in two days and many agencies picked up boxes of the list from the county to distribute them at their events. The overall return on our investment is intangible.