Talking to a Friend: Personalize, Localize, Dramatize
Main Idea: The most effective message is one that is told like someone you know telling you a story. This is most easily understood. Also, it is most easily passed on. When you write a message, imagine you are telling a friend the story face to face.
Often, someone ignores an official bulletin because the bulletin seems like just a routine agency message and the message does not pertain directly to her or his personal situation. For this reason, messages should be written so that they:
Write the message so that it identifies, and addresses directly the recipient of the message. This can be done when you write a message directly addressed to someone or a group of people or directly identifies which group or community is being affected.
Write messages for localities, in which the geographic area is directly identified. Messages can also identify local landmarks or known places that will help the recipient imagine where the event will take place.
Instead of merely giving technical, factual descriptions of the event, the message can provide more vivid imagery or more explicit detail. If this is an unusual or once-in-a-lifetime event, then say so.
Following the above suggestions increase the chances that the recipients of the message understand that it is talking to them and their situation directly, and it increases the degree of trust they attach to the message.
The following are examples of message elements that are Personalized, Localized, and Dramatized.
Personalized and Localized
"To the residents of District 4"
"Message for residents who live along San Pedro Bay"
Note: Even if the technical bulletin is regional, you can always tell a local community that the bulletin is relevant to their local area with a header like "Message for Residents of Santa Ana".
"the storm surge may be like a destructive 3 meter wave moving at high velocity"
"houses may be torn apart and trees uprooted"
"this may be worse than any flood we have ever experienced"
Note: On the next page, you will be provided with descriptive terms that you can choose from to describe a storm surge. You do not have to be an expert to use these terms, because they have been selected to be applicable to large storm surges or large flood events.