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In this section, you and your team will think about how you will communicate with patrons and other external people at your event and how this will help to prevent problems. Internal communications are dealt with in the processes section. 

Prime people for what to expect. Events who want to reduce drug harm could do this in a tailored way. Have ‘minimising your risk of harm from drugs’ as part of your event information. Have an option for people to sign up for push notifications if drug checking finds something dodgy. Make sure people have a few clues on how to deal with problems – for example, knowing where the psychedelic first aid tent is located.

- Wendy Allison, Managing Director of KnowYourStuffNZ

Consider having a wider discussion with your team to think about the types of communication your event will have, who you will be communicating to and what your timeline will be. Here are some other things to consider: 

  • When do you start developing this plan and who needs to be involved?
  • Consider that a plan for your drug communications and messaging is better placed in an overall communications plan.  
  • How will you incorporate drug-specific communications within the communications style of your event?
  • Which stakeholders do you need to share your drug-specific communications with?
  • How will you prioritise key information without overwhelming patrons?
  • How do you communicate with different audience groups?
  • Which mediums do you use to communicate, and which are the most effective to use for drug harm reduction messages?
  • What are the key points in time for communicating important information (eg, upon ticket purchase, 1 month before, 1 week before…)? 

There is also no point in talking in a corporate language to 17 and 18 year olds, you need to communicate on their level.

- Brendan Hines, General Manager of Spark Arena

Remember to include key messaging and communication pieces into the event briefings of your frontline workforce which includes volunteers right through to security staff. The use of staff briefing handouts or aide memoirs can help prioritise drug-specific information for staff to share with patrons in a friendly non confronting manner and approach.

 -Ashley Quensell, EVANZ Board Member, General Manager of National Operations at P4G.

  • Who do you need to build relationships with regarding your approach and how will it be communicated? (eg, Police, DHBs, St John, other medical providers, your security contractors, venue owner, council, other local authorities, iwi, community groups).
  • Which stakeholders do you need to work with to plan and align your communications with their expectations?  
  • Who do you need to consult vs who do you need to inform?
  • How will you talk about your drug harm reduction approach to local residents?
  • Who else do you need to consult about your harm reduction strategy? 

Effective communication is very important. Event organisers should consult with the medical provider early in the planning stage. Often the ‘first-aid’ provider is a last minute add-on to comply with HS&W obligations. Organisations like St John Event Health Services have years of experience supplying medical cover to major events of all descriptions. They can assist with your safety plans, medical plans and obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Another tip is to have a robust communications plan for your event which is shared between all the stakeholders, including same grid style maps for all, same radio channels, and utilising an event management platform like Blerter are great ways to run a smooth event.

- Glen Hoult, Event Risk and Specialist Team Manager, St John

Considerations for the event

  • Who are your key audiences? What is the demographic?  
  • What do you need to state explicitly to your patrons regarding your drug and alcohol policy?
  • Consider your drug checking communications, such as what can people expect onsite. Will you advertise drug checking?
  • When is the best time to communicate your key messaging around drugs? What other messaging will this go out with?
  • What is the best tone and style for drug policy communications? eg, is it best to be positive and in the style of the event? (consider avoiding lists of dos and don’ts).  
  • What information sits within your conditions of entry, and what sits within more prominent spaces like direct emails, social media, and highlighted on your website?
    • Consider that you may not be able to share all your internal policies with patrons (eg, the threshold you might use when determining whether drugs found on someone are for personal use or supply).
    • Consider how will you manage patrons’ expectations, (eg, around capacity of drug checking). 

  • What might you need to communicate to patrons at the event?
  • What’s the most critical safety information you need to communicate?
  • What are the best ways to communicate these messages effectively with patrons while they’re at the event? Which messages will you display where?
    • Consider:
      • Apps on phones.  
      • Online comms over social media/texts.  
      • Posters/boards/rolling banners.
      • Videos or text on stage screens.  
      • Announcements from MCs/artists.  
    • Also consider that short and clear messages work better if people are intoxicated.
  • How might staff and services onsite communicate or reiterate these messages to patrons?
    • Consider having people out in the field or in the crowd advising of different services available.  
  • Who else should you collaborate with on messaging? (artists, staff, third parties).  
  • How would you share urgent information about a critical event like mass drug adulteration found in drug checking? (Potentially using the above suggestions).  

  • How will you share successes and lessons with the sector, stakeholders, and patrons?
  • How will you follow up on any major issues or concerns, and report to relevant parties?  
  • How will you manage media requests about the event or incidents, while protecting patron privacy?
  • Do you have a process for patrons to be able to give you feedback? 

These resources have been created for event organisers, by event organisers. They were commissioned by Te Whatu Ora, and the NZ Drug Foundation helped the working group share their expertise. Much thanks and appreciation to those who've contributed.