Zombie Preparedness

People just can’t get enough of zombies these days. These walking corpses with a hunger for human flesh are so popular, in fact, that they’ve become the focal point of video games, books, and even advertisements in addition to horror movies and gory television shows.

Companies such as Honda, Sears, and FedEx, just to name a few, have launched zombie-themed marketing campaigns, but you may be surprised that several public sector entities have also put zombies to work. Many of these campaigns involve social media.

Here are a few killer—pun intended—examples:

1. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Zombies - CDCAh, the zombie campaign that started it all. “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse” is a 2011 blog post by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) that compares a zombie invasion to real-life emergencies like hurricanes and other natural disasters. Citizens are urged to stock up on supplies such as water, food, medications, clothing, and copies of important documents in case zombie invasion or natural disaster strikes. The blog was such a hit thanks to Twitter and other social media platforms that the CDC’s blog actually crashed due to so many visits. A video contest, graphic novella, and similar campaigns soon followed, an indication that Preparedness 101 was a smashing success. It is still being promoted on the CDC website.

Side note, I followed the CDC’s advice in preparing my own “zombie go-bag” in one of my most popular GovGirl videos. Most frequent comment? The kit doesn’t have zombie-killing weapons!

2. Kansas Division of Emergency Management

Kansas Zombie Preparedness FlyerThe Kansas Division of Emergency Management must have been inspired by the CDC’s use of zombies to promote disaster preparedness, because it launched a similar campaign and even held a Zombie Preparedness Day this October to teach residents about food storage, building disaster kits, and even how to prepare family pets for the unexpected.

3. Santa Clara Library

Zombie Survival GuideMary Shelley’s Frankenstein was first published in 1818, but many of today’s students are more familiar with technology and websites than actual books. The Santa Clara Library decided to take advantage of the zombie phenomenon by creating a Zombie Survival Guide aimed at helping teens find interesting zombie-related fiction and non-fiction on bookshelves rather than iPads.

4. Tri-State Medical Reserve Corps

University of CincinnatiA group of University of Cincinnati College of Nursing students dedicated their final senior project to enlisting volunteers for the Tri-State Medical Reserve Corps, a branch of the national Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). The MRC, formed as a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, trains volunteers to become medically competent during disasters. The nursing students used a zombie theme to successfully recruit 40 new volunteers in one month.

5. Missouri Department of Conservation

Missouri ZombiesThe Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) also jumped on the zombie bandwagon, blogging about preserving the state’s fish, forest, and wildlife resources from invasion. The MDC compared a zombie invasion to a feral hog problem in parts of the state, as well as safety for both experienced and novice hunters and foresters spending time in the great outdoors.

“Government” and “cool” may not be used in conjunction all too often, but these zombie campaigns help prove that even federal and local officials know that having fun with trending topics can help create a captive audience.

Kristy Dalton is the creator of Government Social Media and host of the GovGirl.com online video series. Read her full bio.

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