Developing Powerful Public Awareness Campaigns

Merryl Bear, M.Ed.


It is often by looking at the day, week, or month designated for specific populations or issues that we can see who and what is marginalized within the dominant culture. So Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW) and International No Diet Day (INDD)  join Black History Month and International Women’s Day, for instance. It is through raising public awareness that we hope that such marginalized and misrepresented people and issues will be better integrated into everyday understanding and appreciation. Our global aim at NEDIC is thus to work towards a time when every day is a celebration of the natural diversity of human bodies and abilities.  

Interested individuals often wish to do something to commemorate EDAW or INDD, but are intimidated by a perceived lack of resources. The most important asset one has in organizing an event is enthusiasm and dedication. It can take remarkably little money to organize and hold an event. This is especially true when one forms coalitions with other individuals or agencies who may provide access to venues, publicity, or other resources. Some of the questions that are helpful in planning an event follow:    

  • Whom should we invite to sit on a committee? What resources do these people bring to the committee and event? Do we have a good participatory representation of our population?
  • Who is our target audience? (age, gender, cultural groups, etc.)
  • What kind of theme would we like to promote? (e.g., prevention, secondary or tertiary care, nutrition, socio-cultural issues, etc.)
  • What kind of tone would we like to promote? (e.g., primarily celebratory, educational/informational, non-medical)
  • In what form would we like our event to take place? (e.g., lecture, round-table, conference, arts performance, information booth, mass media blitz, etc.)
  • What kind of venue would be most appropriate for our event?
  • How much is it going to cost to sponsor the event(s)? (venue, honoraria, materials, publicity, etc.)
  • Whom can we approach for donations? What will be provided in return? Are sponsors comparable with the message we want to convey?
  • Where can volunteers be found? (schools, women’s centres, community groups)
  • How and where can we best publicize the event(s)? (media, schools, health and women’s centres, etc.) 
  • What promotional materials do we need?
  • Have we called NEDIC to see what resources/promotional materials are available?

To enable individuals and communities to construct a better future we need to engage in a process of identifying and clarifying problems, articulating how we would like things to be different, looking at viable alternatives and then translating these into achievable goals and actions. These problem-solving activities can benefit from working in strong coalitions. Let’s work together to make a safer, more respectful environment for all!


© NEDIC 1996; reviewed and updated 2015