New Campaign for Prescribed Fire in Florida

Tall Timbers and the Florida Forest Service have teamed up to deliver a new prescribed fire marketing campaign. Call it public support, social license, or normalization, we all know that keeping community support for prescribed fire is key for protecting and expanding its use.

The new digital ad campaign uses short videos and text to share key messages with target audiences and call them to action. Going beyond awareness building, the strategy is to challenge those who know the power of prescribed fire to “let neighbors know.” Fostering peer to peer communication diversifies the voices speaking up for fire and allows the message to persist beyond the campaign.

The new WhyPrescribedFire.org website was also created to help Floridians let neighbors know that prescribed fire protects the lands we love and communities we live in. This streamlined site provides easy access to sharable materials, sharable answers to common questions, and an interactive map to stay in the know about local prescribed fires.

 

 

The pilot campaign in summer 2020 utilized Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other websites to deliver more than 14 million digital ads in over 50 targeted ZIP codes throughout Florida (based on fire frequency near urban edges). This pilot allowed us to test messages, document common questions, and confirm that people are willing to speak up for fire on social media platforms to help correct misconceptions.

The second run of campaign ads launched in late January 2021, to coincide with Prescribed Fire Awareness week in Florida, and will run through the end of March. Updates include new videos and graphics to help catch the eye and “stop the scroll” as audiences view their social media. This round of paid ads is also supported by partner engagement to share campaign materials on their own social media accounts. The strategy recognizes that different organizations are trusted messengers for different people. Expanding participation beyond traditional fire partners can help reach audiences who care about the environment, but have not connected those values to prescribed fire.

To learn more about partner needs regarding fire communication, we surveyed over 30 organizations and conducted five structured interviews with key partners. The results helped create a new “Partner Toolkit” hosted on WhyPrescribedFire.org that includes a full calendar of suggested social media posts and best practices for addressing social media comments regarding fire. The goal is to make participation easy and flexible.

The 3-year project is paid through a public-private partnership that leverages state funding for buying ads, with Tall Timbers private funding used for campaign strategy and creative content development. Red Hills region landowners graciously stepped forward to fund the private portion of this statewide campaign, recognizing the investment in prescribed fire. To bring in high level marketing services, Tall Timbers contracted with Marketing for Change. The firm is anchored in social psychology and behavioral change, and includes key staff members with experience conducting focus groups for the 2009 multi-state “Good Fires” campaign.

Managing a large-scale digital campaign is a learning and growth opportunity for Tall Timbers. We are an organization that values the in-person and out-of-doors connections first. However, social media offers a cost effective and targeted way to reach and engage larger audiences to support prescribed fire.

Now it’s your turn. Talk about prescribed fire. Share a post. Answer a question. You’re the key to protecting a practice that’s protected us for years.

To access the Partner Toolkit or learn more about the project, please contact Brian Wiebler, Tall Timbers Communications Director.

To see all of the campaign videos, visit our YouTube channel.

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