Social media campaigns help public works departments perform outreach in an organized and targeted manner. But developing and producing all the content needed for just one campaign topic can take considerable time and resources.

Fortunately, several agencies and organizations offer free materials for campaigns, making them available online for anyone to use. For example, each year FEMA develops content for its annual National Preparedness Month campaign including videos, social media messages, handouts, graphics, and other material.

This year’s campaign, which can be found at, is called "Resolve to be Ready" and focuses on the importance of parents including their children in preparedness conversations. In addition to the annual program, FEMA has also declared September National Preparedness Month and provides additional materials for groups interested in participating in this effort.

To use FEMA’s materials to promote emergency preparedness, you can download the National Preparedness Month Digital Engagement Toolkit. This guide provides advice for starting your own promotion of emergency preparedness, sample social media posts and videos that can be shared on sites like Twitter and Facebook, and even how to organize and host a Twitter Chat.

Creating an online flash mob
This year, FEMA amplified outreach by setting up a messaging service through Thunderclap, a tool described as a crowdspeaking platform. Thunderclap allows people to create a message and then ask supporters to partner with them in sharing the message through their own social media accounts. To create their Thunderclap campaign, FEMA set up the emergency preparedness message shown here.

Then they set a deadline of Sept. 2 for the campaign, and started asking people to join by sending Tweets like the one in the next photo. On the day of the deadline, FEMA’s Thunderclap message was pushed out automatically through the social media accounts of all the supporters who signed up for the campaign. As you can see in the statistics next to their Thunderclap message above, this effort exceeded FEMA’s goal of reaching 250 supporters and ended up reaching more than 6.7 million people.

FEMA also created a National PreparAthon Day and asked others to participate by creating their own local event or effort. The website for the event offers ideas for activities and messages based on specific types of disasters. For example, under the Flood Preparedness section, resources include a Flood Playbook with a conversation guide and organizational tabletop exercise scenario. Other materials include event invitations, logos, badges, certificates of participation, and posters that can be customized. So far, more than 14 million people registered to participate on Sept. 30 - the day selected for the event.

Other campaigns that offer free materials to public works departments include: