Recruit volunteers to staff the float on the day of the parade and determine what they should wear to highlight the safe digging theme

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Campaign Overview: Florida Gas Transmission and Sunshine 811’s Parade Float in Celebration of National Safe Digging Month


With April 2014 quickly approaching, a thought occurred to a group of Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) employees: large public parades held in Tallahassee, Fla. would provide a festive and engaging way to spread the safe digging message to Floridians at a time of year when digging activity is high. Tallahassee’s 46th Annual Springtime Festival was set to take place during National Safe Digging Month, so a group of FGT employees spearheaded the project of conceptualizing and creating a safe digging-themed float and approached Sunshine 811 about collaborating on the effort. Together, FGT and Sunshine 811 entered their call-before-you-dig float – featuring a vibrant backyard scene with a backhoe preparing to dig into land marked with flags denoting the approximate location of buried utilities – into the parade, and tossed safe digging promotional items to the impressive crowd, reminding them to always call 811 before digging.


FGT recommends the following steps to execute a similar campaign in your area:

  • Once you’ve determined which parade you’d like to participate in, contact the event organizers to find out necessary details, fees, event rules and reserve a spot. In some cases, float themes, costumes and promotional materials are required to be listed on application and approved in advance by parade organizers. 

  • Determine the theme of your float and what resources will be needed for implementation, including where you will build and store the float until the day of the parade. Be creative to win the attention of attendees and the media.

  • Order supplies and enlist the help of volunteers to build the float. Be sure to plan for all of the logistical elements of building and transporting the float, such as whether a police escort will be required.

  • Consider throwing 811-themed goodies to parade attendees from the float.  Promotional items that help illustrate the importance of calling 811 and convey damage prevention messages are the best choices for this kind of endeavor. 

    • Check with parade organizers to find out if there are any restrictions on the items that can be distributed during the event. For example, sometimes paper items are banned as handouts.

    • Take into account the weight of promotional items before ordering. Heavy items are difficult for volunteers to carry throughout the entire parade route. Also consider how volunteers will carry the trinkets. Cross-body bags that volunteers can access easily are a good option.

  • Recruit volunteers to staff the float on the day of the parade and determine what they should wear to highlight the safe digging theme. Make plans in case of inclement weather and have rain ponchos on-hand for volunteers. 

  • Seize local media opportunities before, during and after the parade. Have two to three simple key messages ready to deliver to reporters about the importance of calling 811 before any digging project. Take advantage of post-event media coverage to expand the reach of your effort. Write articles for company intranet and/or industry publications and newsletters and submit them along with captioned photos.


Three months prior to event

Determine the event’s costs and parameters; determine the float theme and assess what resources will be needed to build it.

Two months prior to event

Order supplies and organize volunteers to help build the float; begin building if possible.

One month prior to event

Begin or continue building the float; plan logistical details of getting the float to the parade route and back safely; consider organizing promotional items to be thrown of the float; plan float volunteers’ day-of attire.

One week prior to event

Alert the media about your float and its important safety message; confirm volunteer day-of staff; create a plan for inclement weather.


Approximately 70,000 people attended Tallahassee’s 46th Annual Springtime Festival and had the chance to see FGT and Sunshine 811’s safe digging float. The float also took home first place and the President’s Award, further highlighting the safe digging message. While the event was not televised, FGT was sure to spread the word about its effort after the event in internal and industry publications. Similar efforts could also include any relevant media impressions, spikes in website traffic and other metrics in their results. For more information about this campaign, contact Gina Greenslate at

Campaign Overview: JULIE’S Knapsack Program – Where in the World is 811?


As is the case for many damage prevention stakeholders, Illinois’ one call center, JULIE, found it was showcasing a wide variety of promotional and education items to events, only to have a select few picked over and chosen by attendees. In an effort to streamline its educational outreach materials program and get the most important items into the public’s hands, JULIE decided to create one featured item. This item, a draw-string-style knapsack, would capture the public’s interest, while also distributing educational materials that communicate important damage prevention information.
To take things one step further, JULIE challenged recipients of its draw-string-style knapsacks to take photos of themselves with the bags at locations all around the world and email them to JULIE for a chance to earn additional JULIE prizes for their efforts.

JULIE recommends the following steps to execute a similar campaign in your area in 2017:

  • Select and purchase a featured item – While knapsacks can be an attractive giveaway item because they can hold a variety of educational materials, consider what the best item will be for your organization. Regardless of the item selected, seek to secure financial support from additional stakeholders since you will be able to offer logo placement in exchange for their financial support. Consider working with a promotional materials broker who can help you obtain the best quality item at the best possible price.

  • Coordinate distribution with partners – Take a full inventory of all partner organizations, which can include your fellow damage prevention stakeholder organizations as well as sports teams you may sponsor, retail partners, etc. Work with these partners to find ways to distribute the item to reach the maximum number of people.

  • Create a program that incentivizes taking photos of the featured item – While the first year of the JULIE program featured a program that asked people to email pictures of themselves with their knapsacks, JULIE shifted this portion of the campaign to Facebook in 2013 to showcase all submitted photos and build excitement for the campaign. Determine a way to provide a secondary item, such as an 811 T-shirt, to everyone who takes the time to submit a photo, and consider collecting larger prizes, such as gift cards, from your supporting partners. Additionally, consider broadening your promotion to allow for submission of photos of anything having to do with 811 (such as 8:11 on a clock, a mailbox with 811 as the address, etc.).

  • Measure Success There are two ways to evaluate the success of the program – 1) Measuring the number of materials distributed and 2) Measuring the number of entries for prizes. Both of these measurements allow you to determine the amount of engagement with the 811 message that occurred. The key element about this campaign is the depth of engagement that is achieved, especially if someone takes the time to take a photo and submit it to your organization.



Select and purchase featured item and secure sufficient educational materials to include in/with it.


Coordinate distribution plans with damage prevention stakeholders and other partners. Launch Facebook page in preparation for photo submissions.


Begin outreach/distribution to coincide with National Safe Digging Month. Begin collecting photos on Facebook and distributing prizes as needed throughout the spring and summer.

Fall (Exact date depends on how quickly quantity is distributed)

Measure success of the campaign, make adjustments for the following year and distribute grand prizes, if applicable.


In the first year of this program, which didn’t start until the summer due to the number of existing spring programs in 2012, JULIE distributed 3,500 packages across the state. It received photos from places as far away as the Cayman Islands. JULIE was able to more efficiently spend its production budget and increase the public’s level of engagement with the 811 message, and most importantly, call volume was up 7 percent.




Campaign Overview: Alabama 811’s 8:11 a.m. Advertising Blitz

In preparation for National Safe Digging Month (NSDM) in 2013, Alabama 811 found a creative way to make its annual spring advertising campaign have an even bigger impact. The organization ran a multi-station 811 radio advertising campaign at 8:11 a.m. every morning throughout the entire month of April 2013 and into early May. Each morning at 8:11 a.m., a radio DJ read a live ten-second message promoting 811, broadcasting the call before you dig message repetitively during morning drive time – an excellent way to raise awareness. In addition to the 8:11 ads, the organization’s NSDM media campaign also included web banner ads, sponsorship of radio NASCAR coverage and other ad spots.

Alabama 811 recommends the following steps for implementing an 8:11 811 advertising blitz:

  • Research radio stationsResearch stations in your area that attract the right demographic for the 811 safety message. Alabama 811 chose a sports radio station that broadcasts NASCAR races, because CGA research indicates that people who dig are likely to consume this type of media.

  • Contact an ad sales representative – Once you have determined which radio station(s) fit the call before you dig demographic best, reach out to an ad sales rep to discuss the possibility of running daily ad spots at 8:11 a.m. The rep should be able to let you know about the feasibility of your proposal and may be able to offer additional sports broadcast sponsorships or advertising opportunities that would work well for spreading the 811 safety message within your budget. Be certain that if you are an association or not-for-profit One Call Center that you advise the representative of your status for the possibility of reduced rates.

  • Create your ‘reads’ or ad spots – Create the “read” that the station will use each morning at 8:11 a.m. Alabama 811’s read was as follows: “It's 8:11am. Alabama 811 wants to remind you to call 811 before you dig. Be safe. Know what's below, always call 811 before you dig. This message brought to you by Alabama 811.” For pre-made ad spots, consider using CGA’s new PSAs which can be downloaded from

  • Measure success – Request statistics on listenership and impressions from your ad sales rep to measure the reach of your 811 radio campaign.

The 8:11 a.m. advertising campaign is useful during both NSDM and surrounding 8/11 Day. Alabama 811 recommends beginning to research radio stations at least one month prior to when you’d like to start advertising, and reaching out to an ad sales rep a few weeks in advance.

NSDM 2013 was a successful one for Alabama 811. The organization reached 650,000 Alabama residents through its 8:11 a.m. advertising blitz and complementary components, including sponsoring NASCAR radio coverage and displaying banner ads on station websites. For more information about this campaign, contact Michele Dory at

Southern Star Reaches Key Stakeholders with
National Safe Digging Month Competition for Employees

In 2012, Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline wanted to create a way for its employees to have fun with public awareness activities during National Safe Digging Month. Southern Star developed a contest for its different locations and departments that awarded a prize for the group that best conveyed the safe digging message to stakeholder groups during the month of April. Not only did Southern Star engage many of its employees in National Safe Digging Month, it also reached hundreds of stakeholders through the public awareness activities that were a direct result.

Southern Star recommends the following steps when developing and executing a National Safe Digging Month competition for employees:

  • Set Competition Guidelines – Create guidelines for the contest that encourage employees to develop public awareness activities that target key stakeholder groups and get the best messages across. In Southern Star's competition, employees were asked to target excavators, landscapers, schools, public officials, homeowners or emergency officials with a creative promotion of damage prevention or the call before you dig message. Determine who will judge the entries and develop an evaluation matrix to ensure that all entries will be judged consistently. Southern Star's entries were judged by members of its Public Awareness Team based on originality, message content, concept, outreach and overall success.

  • Set Entry Period and Timeline – Give employees the month of April to conduct their public awareness activities. Southern Star employees were given April 1 through April 30 to execute their activities and submit them for consideration in the competition. Have all entries submitted to one email address. Determine when judges will meet to choose the winner, as well as when and how the winner will be revealed. Southern Star's Public Awareness Department reviewed its entries and notified the winning group by the end of May.

  • Determine a Prize – Set a budget for the prize. Encourage competition and participation by selecting a reward that will be meaningful to any employee. The winning location or department of Southern Star's competition received a free meal, T-shirts, accolades in the company newsletter and a traveling trophy, which is a chrome shovel with the 811 logo engraved on the blade along with National Safe Digging Month. The wooden handle has a removable chrome plate where the winner is engraved each year, and the winning location or department gets to hold on to the trophy until a new winner is named.





  • Determine contest guidelines, judges, entry period, budget, prize, etc.

  • Draft email, newsletter article or flier to announce contest to employees


  • Notify employees of contest


  • Employees execute and submit their activities for consideration


  • Select and notify winner

  • Announce winner to company

  • Evaluate success and reach of contest

Southern Star's National Safe Digging Month competition has prompted many great ideas for stakeholder outreach, including pancake breakfasts for homeowners held at community centers, emergency responder training sessions, and interactive presentations at schools to promote the 811 message and increase awareness of safe digging practices. Southern Star engaged nearly 100 employees with its competition, and the resulting public awareness activities have reached approximately 1,000 stakeholders. For more information about Southern Star's competition, please contact Brad Carter at

Southern Star's traveling trophy.

One of the resulting public awareness activities at a local school.

Campaign Overview: PG&E Builds Partnerships with Local City Councils and Counties to Strengthen Permitting Processes and Require Call to 811


In 2014, Pacific Gas & Electric wanted to increase public awareness about 811 and partner with the local city councils and counties in our service territory. The goal was to build partnerships that will help us as we work to improve and strengthen the permitting process and require a call to 811 before digging.

Through collaboration between PG&E’s Local Government Relations, Gas Operations and Local Presence teams, the company attended City Council and Board of Supervisors meetings throughout its service territory, presented localized 811 strategies to public officials, publicly thanked our local government partners for their support and explained during public comment why calling 811 and following safe digging practices are so important.

As a result of this work, in April 2014, 54 cities and 18 counties pledged their support for 811 Safe Digging Month in the form of formalized proclamations and resolutions. Support came from all across our service territory, from Humboldt to San Luis Obispo, Auburn to Santa Cruz. In November and December 2014, PG&E received further local recognition for its safe digging efforts in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay area.
By securing a total of 72 proclamations and resolutions across its service territory, PGE&E took a major step forward with its partnerships. Later in the year, PG&E’s local relationships expanded and the company was able to work with the local emergency personnel of many cities and counties to increase 811 training, workshops and third-party billing for emergency stand by.
Moving forward, all of these new partnerships will help PG&E as it works to improve and strengthen the permitting process and requiring a call to 811 before digging, explore new enforcement strategies such as emergency billing and possible ordinances and create Notice of Violations with fines within a given city or county limit.
PG&E also greatly improved the company’s image regarding public safety, made its service territory safer and built valuable, real and lasting partnerships that will help it achieve its long-term 811 goals.
For more information about PG&E’s efforts, please contact Jon Little at

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Campaign Overview: Connecting Arbor Day and Earth Day to

National Safe Digging Month

Indiana 811, the one-call center for the Hoosier State, sought to develop new media pitching angles during National Safe Digging Month, and it decided to attach the safe digging message to two April observances that involved tree planting – Earth Day and Arbor Day – to spread the 811 message through events and media coverage.

Indiana 811 recommends the following steps to connect Arbor Day and Earth Day events to safe digging:

  • Research Events to Attend – The most important part of establishing a quality schedule of Earth Day and Arbor Day events is to select only the best ones, since there are only so many events that a stakeholder or group of stakeholders can attend. Some of the best events are ones promoted by towns, cities and counties through their parks and recreation departments. Ask for a free booth and offer to briefly speak at a tree planting.

  • Contact the Media – Use the CGA-provided news release and media advisory templates to inform local media of your organization’s involvement with each event and the connection with 811 and safe digging. Make follow up phone calls to media outlets to determine if a reporter will be attending the event. If a reporter is in attendance, be sure to have a stakeholder representative approach that reporter and explain why calling 811 is such an important part of tree planting.

  • Take Photos – In some cases, reporters will be unable to attend Earth Day and Arbor Day events, but newspapers and news websites will often be willing to accept submitted photos from members of the community. Additionally, you can use those photographs on stakeholder websites and Facebook pages.

  • Measure Success Ask contacts from the various events to inform you of estimated attendance counts for each event. Also, monitor for media coverage. If you are unsure if media coverage ran, contact CGA, which monitors for media coverage of 811 year-round at no cost to its members.





Research and select events


Assign volunteers to work each event and order educational

materials (as needed)


Customize CGA media outreach templates


Conduct media outreach, attend events and take photos


Monitor for media coverage


April proved to be an even more successful month for Indiana 811 media coverage, due in large part to the strong connection between safe digging and Arbor Day/Earth Day. Indiana 811 was able to use this angle to secure coverage that included a photo in the Indianapolis Star, as well as TV coverage in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Terre Haute. Similar media exposure was earned again in 2012 and 2013. For more information on this campaign, please contact Chuck Muller at


[Insert Company Logo] 811 anniversary logo color.jpg

Media Contact:



[STAKEHOLDER] reminds local residents to call 811 Before PLANTING TREES THIS EARTH dAY AND aRBOR dAY
Don’t let a digging accident diminish environmental efforts

[CITY, STATE ABBREVIATION] (April 17, 2017) — [Insert stakeholder] recognizes that many people will be planting trees for Earth Day and Arbor Day projects, so it is important to remember to call 811 at least [Insert state notification period] ahead of time to have underground utility lines marked before digging begins.
Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Volunteers are responsible for having lines marked, regardless of whether they are planting a sapling or a full-grown tree.
Everyone who calls 811 is connected to [Local one call center], which notifies the appropriate utility companies of the caller’s intent to dig. Professional locators are sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint. Once lines have been properly marked, digging can begin around the marked lines.

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surface. Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.
“With the possibility of utility lines only a few inches from the surface, this simple call to 811 will help volunteers, contractors and do-it-yourself diggers avoid striking an underground utility line,” said XXX, XXX [Insert stakeholder representative’s name and title here].
Visit for more state information about 811 and the call-before-you-dig process.

# # #


[Insert Company Logo] 811 anniversary logo color.jpg

Media Contact:




[Stakeholder Name] to Host

[Earth/Arbor] Day Event

Tree-planting beautifies community and sets example for safe digging practices
WHAT: [Stakeholder Name] will host a tree-planting event in support of [Earth Day/Arbor Day]. [Stakeholder Name] invites employees, customers and community members to attend the event.
A safe digging demonstration, led by a utility damage prevention expert from [Name of Stakeholder], will precede the tree-planting to educate volunteers on the importance of calling [Insert Local One Call Center Number] at 811 to have underground utility lines marked prior to digging.

WHY: Our underground utility infrastructure is made up of thousands of miles of pipelines carrying natural gas, water and other vital resources. Striking a line while planting a tree can lead to an unintentional utility line damage that can compromise the environment and public safety.
Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. The event and safe digging demonstration are meant to reinforce the message that an environmentally friendly effort should not result in environmental problems.

WHEN: [XXXday, April XX, 2017]

[Event Starting Time][Event Ending Time]
WHERE: [Street Address]

[City], [State] [Zip Code]

For more information visit or [Stakeholder URL].

# # #

Fire Station Marquee Campaign Overview

The Illinois one-call system, JULIE, created a program designed to encourage fire stations to promote the importance of contacting JULIE by posting safe digging messages on their marquees during National Safe Digging Month. JULIE mailed all fire departments across the state a letter requesting their participation, sample messages for the marquees and contact information for participating fire stations to send back a picture of their marquee with an 811 message on it.

In order to execute a successful fire station marquee campaign during National Safe Digging Month this April there are several key steps that must be completed:

  • Fire Station Contact Information Reach out to your state fire marshal’s office to obtain a mailing list of all fire departments in your state. Please keep in mind that some state offices will not release this information. Another option is to reach out to one of your pipeline stakeholders to see if they might be able to provide you with a contact list. If all else fails, you can look up contact information for state fire stations on the Internet.

  • Program Letter – Now that you have created a list of fire stations that you’d like to contact, it is time for you to draft a letter requesting their participation in this program and explain the importance and timeliness of this safety message. A letter template has been provided by CGA as guidance for requesting their participation.

  • Fire Station Follow-up – After you have distributed your letter requesting participation in this program, consider making strategic follow up calls to targeted fire stations that you think would be great for this opportunity. One way you can determine which fire houses are most important is by obtaining traffic count information for various locations through state, county or municipal highway administrations.

  • Submitted Photos Once you begin receiving submitted photos from the various fire stations, feel free to post them on your website, Facebook and Twitter accounts to share with your members/employees/customers.





Collect Fire Station Contact Information

End of February

Draft Program Letter for Distribution

First weeks of March

Distribute Fire Station Letter

End of March

Strategic Follow Up Calls

April – May 1

Post Submitted Photos to various platforms (website, Twitter and Facebook)

May 1 – May 15

Measure traffic volume at marquee locations for month of April


JULIE’s fire station marquee campaign has been an overwhelming success and has grown annually. Due to the success of this unique program, one-call centers across the country have all duplicated these efforts to create similar programs within their state. For more information about the fire station marquee program, please contact Kevin Chmura at



Address 1

Address 2

City, State Zip

Spring is officially upon us, and so is National Safe Digging Month! Stakeholder Name is asking fire stations across the state to show their support for this month by reminding their community members to call State One Call at 811 before any digging project – large or small.
One free call to 811 #of days prior to digging starts the process of having underground utility lines marked. This simple call reduces the chance of diggers unintentionally striking a utility line (gas, electric, communications, water or sewer) and causing inconvenient outages, harm to themselves or someone else, and/or repair costs.
Stakeholder Name asks that you simply post a brief reminder to call 811 on the marquee in front of your fire station during April. Here are a few examples to consider:

  • Know what’s below. Call 811 before you dig.

  • Digging soon? Call 811 first.

  • April is Safe Digging Month. Call 811 before you dig.

  • Call 811 or you may be calling 911.

Photos of signs with the safety message will be posted on our website and Facebook page and included in our communications to contractors and homeowners. You may send photos or materials to Contact Name at contact email. For additional information and assistance, please contact me directly at xxx-xxx-xxxx or contact email.
Additionally, we encourage you to distribute educational materials at safety forums, community events or open houses. We would be more than happy to provide you with these free safety materials for these types of events.
For more information about National Safe Digging Month, please visit
Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to raising awareness of safe digging.

Contact Name

Contact Job Title


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