We hear it all the time, especially when there is a high profile case of a disease or problem such as a catastrophic injury that happens.
There is an immediate cry for MORE PUBLIC AWARENESS of breast cancer, sudden cardiac death, MS, traumatic spine or brain injuries or other less dramatic events but someone is confronting them for the first time. But what does this really mean? Is the goal to have everyone think about the issue? Is it to bring folks ‘in from the cold’ in terms of understanding the issue and soliciting their participation? Is it looking for a broader base from which to do fundraising?
No Such Animal
I don’t believe in public awareness; the sheer volume and diversity that constitutes the general public makes this almost impossible. I believe in people being present and aware, and then filing that information in their memory. When the topic comes up again, recollection can be awareness. But then what?
It is said that it is important to choose a cause, before one chooses you. If there is no one in your family or circle that has confronted cancer, then the awareness of cancer as a real part of someone’s life is more of a series of stories and anecdotes. But if you or someone in your circle receives that diagnosis, suddenly AWARENESS is everywhere.
Who Do you Really Want to Reach?
The better goal, or quest, I believe, is to thoughtfully consider the component of the general public that is meaningful to your cause. If you seek to make travelers aware of certain dangers, or screenings to prevent and offset the seriousness of a disease or for assuring the top of a mountain is not carved off for a mining project, then your message and targets are those who have an interest, a care or a concern for your mission.
Simply seeking awareness without consideration of how to and to whom you want to deliver your message of awareness cannot help you achieve your goals.