IMPLEMENTING YOUR ADVOCACY PROGRAM
Develop Relationships with Business Leaders
Business Leaders: Wise business leaders understand that strong communities make strong businesses. Approach local business and services groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Lions and others to articulate the need for investing in fire prevention and your plan for improving safety in the community.
Demonstrate the total cost of fires both on businesses and the community. Use your localized data to show that a program that reduces the number and severity of fires in your community saves far more than it costs and can reduce the overall cost of local governmental services. It can also help them avoid the loss of productivity that can result not only from a fire at their business but also fires in the homes of their workers.
Once you have identified those business leaders who are most open to your message recruit them to become fire safety advocates.
Business Leaders: Here are some tactics you might consider for reaching key business leaders and recruiting them as fire safety advocates:
- Presentations: Use the localized data you developed to create presentations that show the real and potential impact of fire on the local business community. Economic numbers will be most important for this audience.
- One-On-One Meetings: Identify several key industry and business leaders in your community and request meetings individually or as part of a group. Do you know of a local business owner who experienced work stoppage as a result of fire? Bring him or her along.
- Special Open House: Conduct a similar "behind-the-scenes" open house for small targeted groups of business leaders.
- Email Updates: Include business leaders in your mailing list for email updates about your department's activities.
- Public Relations: When appropriate, prepare and distribute news releases with localized data, facts and requested actions. Make yourself available for media interviews that support your prevention strategy, and prepare incident press releases that can be completed and distributed when an incident occurs in your community. See the section on Working with the Media in this Guide.
- Recognition Program: Create special recognition for business leaders who contribute to prevention activities and/or become fire safety advocates. Determine the types of recognitions that benefit the business community the most and work toward that end.