Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the stakeholder-run organization focused on protecting underground utility lines and the people who dig near them, has launched its 2012 Communications Plan, a comprehensive document that helps a variety of organizations promote safe digging practices to external and internal audiences.
This is the second year that CGA has developed a comprehensive communications plan to assist industry stakeholders in spreading the safe digging message, including the national 811 call-before-you-dig phone number, throughout the year. The plan, which is available at call811.com/campaign-materials, is comprised of how-to guides, case studies, customizable media and outreach tools and a month-by-month calendar with recommended dates for all of the activities suggested in the plan.
According to the most recent Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) data submitted to CGA, underground facilities are damaged once every three minutes on average across the country. The 2010 DIRT Report also found that when an excavator notifies a one call center before digging, damage occurs less than 1% of the time. For these reasons, educating people about making the critical call to 811 remains a primary focus of the CGA.
"We continue to see a large share of damage occurring because no one contacted a local one call center, so it remains incredibly important that Common Ground Alliance members remind stakeholders to know what’s below by calling 811 before digging," said Bob Kipp, CGA President. "During 2011, the first year that the plan was available, we saw remarkable jumps in traffic to the call811.com site as well as other indicators that our safe digging message was reaching new audiences. We hope that 2012 will be an even more successful year for spreading our safety message."
Many of the communications tools in the 2012 plan focus on the two times of year when damage prevention stakeholders push their message the hardest – National Safe Digging Month in April and 8/11 Day on Aug. 11. There are also many other materials, such as fact sheets and news releases with connections to other times of the year.
Several of the case studies and campaigns included in this year's plan originated as local pilot programs run by CGA members. These successful campaigns can now be implemented by other damage prevention stakeholders across the country. The plan is also a living document that CGA plans to update with fresh content on a monthly basis in 2012.
"Our annual communications plan is an incredible resource that our members use regularly," said Dan Maschka, co-chair of CGA's Educational Programs, Membership, Marketing and Communications Committee. "At the same time, our members are our best source of content for the plan – their ideas for educating the public and professional contractors/excavators are a core component of this year’s communications plan."
Feedback from CGA members and successful local campaigns from 2011 were incorporated as fresh elements in the 2012 Communications Plan. New to the plan this year are tools such as an op-ed piece and contributed article that can be used year-round, a Flickr photo sharing program and social media messages that can be used on Facebook and Twitter accounts.