Educate and Engage the University Community
Engaging the university community about the bird-building issue is an important step in growing widespread support for bird-friendly practices. Successful programs have several common elements which you should be familiar with as you plan your engagement efforts.
Before people can act on an issue, they need to know about it! Create awareness on campus via social media, informative posters at collision hotspots, using online data entry platforms such as the FLAP Mapper to log collisions, or writing articles in student newspapers.
When crafting messages:
- Ensure messages are clear, factual, and accessible.
- Seek to build common ground. One way to do this is by localizing the issue and talking about what’s happening on campus. Community pride can make the issue more relevant for people and help motivate action.
- Show your audience what’s beautiful and amazing about birds to help them connect with what’s at risk.
- Your message will have more impact if you can create a narrative that engages your audience. Consider a range of approaches such as high-impact visuals or personal stories to share your concern and passion for the cause.
- Identify possible solutions so that your audience feels a sense of control over how to proceed.
- Include inspiring stories about how others have made a difference.
Think about what barriers to action your audience might face. Do they lack the information they need to take effective action? Is what you’re asking them to do difficult, costly or inconvenient? Are they overwhelmed by the scale of the issue and feel like their individual actions won’t make a difference? Answering these questions can help you to identify, then act to remove or reduce barriers to have a higher chance of sparking action.
Empower your community to take action by creating a clear, reasonable, motivating path forward. Craft your call to action in a focused and inspiring way, while articulating the end goal.
You want to know if your engagement efforts are working, so decide on trackable metrics to assess performance. This can be difficult because sometimes the behaviours you want are not easily tracked, but you can get creative. For example, you could use surveys to see if a campaign influenced behaviour or ask people to share on social media a photo of a change they implemented.
People will be more likely to stay engaged if they can see they are making a difference, so find ways to showcase the impact of people’s actions. Making their efforts visible both inside and outside the university also creates excitement and pride and builds a positive reputation for your cause.
Where possible, gather feedback to help you evaluate the successes and shortcomings of your efforts. What could be done differently next time to have an even greater impact?