Improve Educational Campaigns to Engage Community Members
by Lauren Swirbul
At another summit breakout session, participants discussed educational campaigns to improve the outreach and education efforts for rural grocery stores. The participants discussed what a successful campaign would look like, if existing campaigns can be modified, and how Kansas State University and CECD can continue to invest in rural grocery store sustainability.
The breakout session participants agreed that a successful education campaign should create sustainable communities and stores that provide access to nutritious food. In addition, it should include clear objectives, strategies, and tactics on how to reach these goals. Participants also considered developing existing-education campaigns to make them more successful. The group agreed that campaigns need to be well known to store owners and the community. To attract the interest of community members, the campaign must be simple and include eye-catching materials. The discussion group thought an emotional component would help demonstrate that the problems rural grocery stores are facing are prevalent in rural communities.
The group discussed the problem of having money available to support education on social marketing to increase awareness of campaigns. According to a breakout session member, the campaign would need a customizable kit, which would include Public Service Announcements for radio, television, or print and news releases to successfully market the campaign.
The campaign's messages are critical for bringing awareness to rural grocery stores. Effective messages would include demonstrating the importance of each dollar spent at rural grocery stores and the impact it has on the community. The discussion group emphasized the idea that a few additional dollars spent at the local grocery store would generate more tax dollars to fund schools, build roads and medical facilities, and provide services to the elderly. The campaign would also encourage consumers to buy-locally to lower transportation costs, create jobs, support other community businesses, save time, and connect with other residents.
CECD will continue to invest in rural grocery stores. The organization will help expand educational campaigns and discover ways to engage community members. Breakout session participants agreed that CECD should be involved by bringing stakeholders together, encouraging independent dialogue, conveying the campaign message, and helping individuals focus on the overall problem rather than personal issues.