Workplace Communicator Blog

12 Steps to Improve Your New Safety Communication Campaign

Posted by Marie-Claire Ross on Wed, Apr 27, 2016

Congratulatiogbma_lifting_poster.pngns!  You've now been assigned the task to write and talk about the new safety communication campaign for the month. 

Whether it's about hazards, manual handling, applying sunscreen or even using a new pedestrian walk, you probably know you've got a tough job ahead to get more than 10% of your workforce's interest.

Fear not!  Know that if advertising agencies can make ugly family wagons 'sexy' and even convince people of the benefits of incontinence pads, then it should be fairly easy to get people to want to live another day.  Let's try and get the awareness rate over 75%.

So where to start?  Let me run you through an twelve step process to help you write the best safety campaign you've ever done.

1. Start with the end in mind - Before you even start talking about the topic, really think about what it is you want people to know and the behaviour change required.  In other words, reverse-engineer the process by thinking of the outcome you want and how to get there.  What is the bottleneck or challenge you're having on that topic?  Is the issue that people are forgetting to wear sunscreen?   With that in mind, what is it about applying sunscreen that you want them to do?  Is it to reapply every four hours?  Is it to put it on before going outside?  Be really specific and clear about what change is required.

2. Know your topic - For those of you who love collecting information and details, this bit you will love, but I'm going to make you hate it.  The truth is the more information you tell people, the more they lose interest and ignore what you say.  What you want to do is actually time yourself and for 10 minutes only (and for some of you that will be more than enough time), collect what people need to know about the topic (why they need to do it, how, what and who), in order to change behaviour.  Remember, it's not about supplying information, it's about getting people to do the right actions.   This means providing insights into the topic at hand.  Keep note of interesting points that you weren't aware of, as this is how you can gain attention on the topic.

3. Write a headline - Now that the research part is over, it's time to write an attention-grabbing headline.  This is so important and it's one step most people don't spend much time on.  You might even want to come back and tweak it, after you've written the main body of information.  Make sure people will want to stop and take notice.  Create a headline that is based on the new behaviour your want.  Use the format "3 Steps to...." or "5 Reasons why x is important"  If you discovered something interesting about the topic, you could start your headline with "Did you know that....?"  Remember, people have got lots of other things to think about, so make the reason to listen about safety something different to what they expect.

4.  Write the main content - This is where you really need to compel the reader every step of the way.  Think of a funnel and provide summary information first and then go down into the nitty-gritty.  Include headlines, examples, stories, dot points and small paragraphs to make it easy on the eye.  People will scan your article, so if it looks short and easy to read, they will spend more time reading it.  Avoid long words, big paragraphs, complicated sentences and obscure information.  Always think of the reader and avoid trying to sound smart.  It's not about you.  It should be easy enough to read that a kid in Year 5 could understand it.  If you want some tips about how to put your campaign together, get a free chapter from the book Transform your Safety Communication.

5. Use visuals - Make sure you have a photo or image that represents the task.  Video is good as well, but you will still need photos.  Ideally, ensure your photos and video content have one of your employees wearing the correct PPE, so people can associate themselves in the photo.  Make sure the image is clear and that you have a good close up that explains the information.  Avoid out of focus shots and shots that are too wide that show a variety of distracting information.

6. Add a call to action - This is one of the most important parts.  Always specify the new action you want.  Remember, any safety campaign is about behaviour change.  The action you want can also form your safety slogan.  If you want some ideas, take a look at 29 Top Catchy Safety Slogans.  Remember, if you don't tell people what you want them to do, they will be confused.  Use your safety slogan often and ensure this forms the central focus of your campaign.

7. Create other promotional information - Remember, people need to see, hear or read your safety message 6-8 times before they remember it.  It's not once and done.  Do that and you are cheating.  And don't worry about sounding like an old record, repeating the same message again and again.  It might be boring to you, but it's most likely that other people have forgotten it or weren't even consciously aware of it.  Write content for toolbox meetings, company newsletters, safety meetings, safety posters and so on.  Write multiple versions for different toolbox talks.

8. Match your actions to your words - As the safety leader, people will watch you to ensure you're doing the right thing and that they can trust you.  If your message is to not use mobile phones while walking on a pedestrian crossing, then for goodness sake don't do that yourself! 

9. Ask questions - Just because you've told people what to do, don't think your work ends there.  It's time to go out and be amongst your people and find out how they're going with the new safety message or task.  Ask questions, but do so in a way that shows you're interested in them and not trying to catch people out.  This is very important.  Also, keep note of what questions people ask, so that you can update information if there is anything that's unclear.  Be highly visible as this will work towards people trusting you that you care about their safety.  Again, make sure your questions are all about them and not how clever you are when it comes to safety.

10. Get your CEO or executive speech ready - If you're doing a big campaign, you might be expected to prepare a speech for the CEO or an executive about the campaign.  They should already know what the current results are for that topic, but if not keep them updated about the current injuries for that issue.  For example, manual handling injuries are 50 for the year, the goal is to reduce it by about half to 25.  Ensure that you write a speech that talks about the problem (why), current success, what the plan is to fix it and how employees can take action.  Read 5 Topics to Include in your Workplace Speech for more information.  You can also read this whitepaper for more detailed information: 8 Steps to Writing the Workplace Safety Speech.

11. Measure your results - For a really big campaign, let's use manual handling again as an example, you want to keep track of the results.  One of our clients reduced their manual handling injuries from 45 a year down to 19 a year.  So far that's five years in a row.  But it's not just the reduction in injuries that are important.  It's also how much money the company has saved and how people have been saved from unnecessary injury.  Make sure you do a calculation of the amount saved by the average cost of that injury.  For example, a standard manual handling injury in your company might cost $12,000.  Calculate how many injuries have been avoided by the amount of that injury.  For example, say your campaign reduced the manual handling injuries by 10.  Then, 10 x $12,000 = $120,000.  If you want executives to take notice of you and your ability to be an asset in the company and not a necessary cost, letting them know how much money has been saved will really make you stand out and improve your career prospects.  It will also mean it's also easier to get budget for future safety-related projects if you can show a positive return on investment.

12. Take notice of what worked - At the end of the campaign, assess all of the infomation you sent out and how well it was received.  How many people read you email newsletter article?  How many questions were asked in toolbox talks?  Use this information to create an even better safety communication campaign next time.  Remember, the more you know what your audience wants to know, the better you can customise the right information for them.

Remember, the golden rule for any safety communication campaign is to change behaviour.  It's not about overloading people with more information.  Always start by thinking about what behaviour you want changed and ensure you trickle that message through constantly.  This will ensure you make massive improvements in safety within your organisation.


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Topics: workplace safety campaign, designing a safety campaign, sell safety