Vary annual EMS events to keep media engaged

By making slight tweaks, local media came back every year to cover an ambulance driving demonstration that shared the same core message each time


In preparing for my most recent wedding anniversary, one of my tasks was to pick out a card for my wife. Staring at the shelves there were lots of options, yet many of them seemed familiar. I found myself trying to make sure that I didn’t purchase a card that I had already given.

EMS organizations have many anniversary or annual events that we pitch to the media on an annual basis. It’s okay to do the same successful media event year-after-year, just like it is okay to give an anniversary card to your spouse every year. You simply don’t want to always give the exact same card.   

Year 1: EMS week news event

Years ago I was the public information officer for an ambulance service provider. Every year we celebrated EMS Week. Paramedics and EMTs were acknowledged and thanked by the company and the public. 

We received excellent media coverage by hosting an event where reporters and videographers got to drive an ambulance on a closed course. We had a bunch of drills like serpentine through cones and tire spotting for them to complete. During the driving demonstrations, we had the opportunity to talk about our amazing employees and to explain the extensive training each EMT driver completed before they were allowed to drive the ambulance on the road in emergency situations.

The media loved it, and several stations did stories. Some did multiple segments throughout the morning live newscasts. All the coverage talked about thanking employees during EMS Week and that driving an ambulance is harder than it appears and requires a lot of training.

Year 2: Same event different 'card'

The next year we wanted to offer the ambulance driving event again, but we made a minor change to the event. This time we invited mayors and elected officials. We even had an informal contest between some of the officials to see which municipality ran over the fewest cones. The elected officials loved it.

The media loved it even more, as the elected officials driving gave them excellent visuals and each interviewed politician thanked our crews on camera for all that we do for their local community and its residents.

Year 3: New variation for EMS week event

The third year we came up with yet another variation, inviting sports team mascots to drive the ambulances. Media enjoyed this too, even though most mascots literally couldn’t fit behind the wheel. Instead we had to make up an obstacle course and different types of games for them to do and interact. Reporters loved it — especially as the mascots wrapped up the reporter in gauze and other medical supplies on camera during her live stand-up

Slight variations keep annual events fresh and fun

My point is that it’s okay to do the same basic thing every year when it’s a crowd pleaser that gets the desired result. The key is making a slight tweak to the annual plan to keep it fresh and fun. It’s the thought that counts.  

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