By Christina Mohrman, Gulf of Mexico Alliance
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) recently joined the Association for Conservation Information and attended our first ACI conference last year in Nashville (as well as bringing home our first ACI award!). We’ve had a great time getting to know all of you and are excited to tell you a bit more about how we communicate across boundaries.
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is a regional network focused on enhancing the environmental and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico through increased collaboration. We work across the region with partners from over 165 organizations in the five Gulf states (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas) on common issues including community resilience, environmental education and management of coastal habitats and wildlife species.
GOMA has built a reputation for bringing people and resources together to improve the health of the Gulf. By fostering collaboration and serving as a trusted source of information, we are able to achieve more than any one organization working alone. GOMA brings this same approach to our communications by being strategic about our resources, translating science for broader audiences, and building partnerships that support the entire region.
Sharing Successes and Raising Awareness
GOMA’s small but mighty communication staff (one full-time, one part-time) manages all the Alliance’s internal and external communications. With limited capacity, most of our public awareness messaging is focused on social media. We’re proud that over the last two and a half years, GOMA’s presence has grown from a few thousand followers across all of our social accounts to 52,000 followers on Facebook alone.
We started building a social media following in 2020 with our “Embrace the Gulf” initiative, which focused on highlighting the vitality, sustainability and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico. The initiative began as an awareness campaign in 2020 with daily posts about the Gulf and expanded into 2021 as a call-to-action campaign with messages about ways to volunteer, get outside and more.
This year, we’ve turned our focus to “What the Gulf Gives” and raising awareness about the connections between the Gulf and the benefits it provides people – including recreation, tourism, economic impacts, coastal resilience and seafood. The campaign has focused mainly on social media posts, but it also includes online and print media articles in regional publications. Example messages include how oysters improve water quality, wetlands prevent erosion, and salt marshes act as a nursery for seafood. Each month also includes a simple call-to-action post that encourages people to “Give Back to the Gulf.”
Building a Communication Network
Anyone who participates in ACI can appreciate the importance of being connected to colleagues in a similar field and the diverse insights they provide! GOMA has a long history of bringing together experts from different states and backgrounds to collaborate on priority issues; we recognized that science and conservation communicators in the Gulf region could also benefit from being better connected. Earlier last year, the Alliance formed a new Gulf of Mexico Science Communication Network. The group meets quarterly via Zoom to discuss ways we can support each other’s communication goals, share expertise, and explore best practices. So far, over 75 people from federal, state, and local agencies; non-profits; and universities have joined in. The group is open to anyone who works on communication in the Gulf region and we welcome new members at any time.
Email Christina Mohrman (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more about the Alliance and get involved.