PestWorld - July/August 2016 - (Page 24)

❱❱ MARKETING CORNER Communicating to the Public about Mosquitoes Spreading Awareness and Enlisting Public Cooperation Amid Concerns About Zika BY CINDY MANNES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PPMA AND VICE PRESIDENT OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS FOR NPMA ZIKA CONCERNS IN AMERICA Zika virus, a disease-causing pathogen spread to humans through mosquito bites, has been the subject of great concern and scrutiny as human cases from people who have recently traveled to affected areas outside the U.S. are being confirmed in states across the country. The need to curb local transmission within the U.S. is paramount as we continue to learn more about the effects of this disease. For example, Zika poses a significant risk in pregnant women, as there is now a definitive link to microcephaly, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development in infants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel alerts for people planning to travel to countries and territories (in the Americas) with active Zika virus transmission and pressed Congress for federal funding to prepare and help develop a vaccine against the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern after identifying clusters of microcephaly and other neurological disorders in connection with the virus. At the time this article was written, there have been no known cases of local transmission in the U.S., but with the looming threat of an active mosquito season, the conversation has shifted from protecting U.S. citizens traveling to Zika-prone countries to the possibility of local transmission here in the states, placing the government and industry groups alike on high alert. OUR ROLE AS AN INDUSTRY As the situation continues to unfold, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is working with various authoritative groups including the CDC, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other industry 24 | PEST WORLD > JULY / AUGUST 2016 partners to help spread information on this public health threat. From our industry's efforts on the Hill, to educating peers via webinars, industry alerts and ongoing member communications, there is a conscientious effort to keep companies informed about the latest developments in regard to mosquitoes and Zika. The Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), the consumer outreach arm for NPMA, has also been working to alert the public about the concern of Zika and perhaps even more importantly, how Americans can better protect themselves from contact with mosquitoes and how to eliminate breeding grounds in their communities and certainly on their own properties. We're doing this through a variety of vehicles, including mainstream media, a broadcast public service announcement campaign, social media and other digital communications. The public's support in this is critical and we need to educate them on the ways in which they can help. YOUR ROLE AS A COMPANY As a pest control operator, you are one of the most influential groups involved in this entire conversation because you have the benefit of the personal interaction. It's paramount for your team, from executive management and marketing folks to customer service reps and technicians, to all be briefed on the current state of affairs, understand Zika and the species of concern, and also be ready with mosquito control talking points to help educate customers. These conversations can happen in the field while on service calls or they can be initiated online or by phone. You can ask customers if they'd like you to come out and inspect the property for potential breeding ground sites, post a blog on your website and cross-promote the content on social channels, and even share information via direct mail campaign, bill stuffers or leave behinds. When it comes to Zika, the pest management industry and its members are a limitless wealth of knowledge on specific mosquito species, their behavior, the threats they pose and how to prevent or avoid contact, and more. You are the authority. You are an educator. ESTABLISHING THE MESSAGE The fact that there is still so much to learn about Zika exemplifies how important controlled messaging is in external communications. The pest management industry has gone to great lengths to remain consistent with its messaging, to communicate the role professional pest control has in combatting mosquitoes, and to share facts and useful information consumers need to help protect against biting mosquitoes and help reduce populations. To that end, it's important that we are all speaking in one, loud, unified voice. There is a lot of misguided advice and some articles teeter on the verge of hysteria. It is our job to be the voice of reason and authority on the subject. When preparing how your company will communicate to concerned customers or the local media, consider using these message points in your outreach: ❶ We are protectors of public health and are experts in mosquito control * Control is LOCAL ❷ We are an authority on mosquito behavior and biology * Zika vectors require an integrated pest management approach for control efforts to succeed ❸ We are educators, urging customers to take precautions to protect themselves and their families from biting mosquito populations * Apply insect repellant and apply it correctly

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PestWorld - July/August 2016

Message From the President
Wearable Devices
Targeted Tech
Down With Data Breaches
Proving Your IPM Service With a Handheld Generated Report
PesTech: Choosing a Mobile Device
Heard From the Hill: Department of Labor Releases Final Overtime Regulations
Marketing Corner: Communicating to the Public About Mosquitoes
Ask the Expert
Membership Programs: Start a More Meaningful Conversation
Mythbusters: Does Social Media Really Work for My Company?
Calendar of Events
Index to Advertisers

PestWorld - July/August 2016