Social media has come a long ways from the days of AOL and MySpace. But is your agency keeping up with the trends and changes — or are you still sitting on the sidelines?
Check out this recorded webinar as Kate Kimble jumpstarts your understanding with Social Media Bootcamp, during which she'll share the top tips and tricks for the major social media platforms.
Justice Clearinghouse Editors (JCH): Kate, you’re a new presenter with Justice Clearinghouse. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience with social media – particularly in the justice arena.
Kate Kimble: I was raised in a military family, so the advent of social media was truly a game changer in my life. After decades of regularly saying goodbye to friends, I jumped on the opportunity to stay connected online. As a communications geek, I’ve always been fascinated by the way we present ourselves in written materials, online, and in person.
My husband spent nearly 10 years wearing a badge. For years, I heard countless cop stories that the community never heard, and I wanted to change that. We moved to Colorado in 2015 when I got hired as the Fort Collins Police Public Relations Manager. From day 1, I’ve worked to create an engaging, authentic connection with our community using social media. Whether it’s in person or online, each interaction is an opportunity to make a deposit into a “trust bank.” Inevitably, our agencies will all face controversial situations at some point. If we haven’t been consistently contributing to this bank, we won’t have the trust equity needed to maintain community support through a crisis.
JCH: Your webinar is about Social Media. A lot of justice professionals might not appreciate why social media is so important in today’s environment… can you share one or two insights they might not be aware of?
Kate: Whether we’re present or not, a 24/7 conversation is happening on social media. It’s in every organization’s best interest to join that dialogue, both to dispel myths and to define their brand. We can’t entirely control the narrative about our respective industries, but we can certainly define ourselves and set ourselves apart from widely-held stereotypes. This is especially critical for professions currently under heavy public scrutiny (like law enforcement).
The average person has very few encounters with justice professionals. Social media gives us an easy, free opportunity to engage with people we may never meet in person. It’s a perfect place to break down barriers, build bridges, challenge assumptions, and remove the mystery from who we are and what we do. I truly believe the justice field produces a wellspring of incredibly inspiring stories, and people crave that kind of positivity in a negative-headline world. We are the only ones who know and can share these stories, though, and we owe it to our communities to tell them.
Inevitably, our agencies will all face controversial situations at some point.
If we haven’t been consistently contributing to this "trust" bank,
we won’t have the trust equity needed to maintain community support through a crisis.
JCH: What are the biggest misconceptions about social media for the justice profession?
Kate: The biggest misconception is that we have to maintain a rigid, ultra-professional persona online to be taken seriously. The truth is, we need to communicate in a way that’s both authentic to our values and also authentic to the social platform on which we’re operating. Humor is my favorite tool. When used appropriately, it amplifies important messages tenfold and humanizes the people in our line of work.
JCH: You’ve learned a lot about social media over the years. What do you wish you would have known or realized about social media years ago that you finally understand now?
Kate: Social media evolves so rapidly. In this Digital Age, we have to keep up with trends, understand the shifting culture, and stay nimble as technology and expectations change. Information moves incredibly fast, and fair or not, people expect us to keep up. I’ve also learned that we can’t expect people to come to us – we have to go to them, speak their language, and use their preferred method of communication if we want to share our messages effectively.
People “learn” about us from shows like CSI, Law & Order,
Orange is the New Black, and Judge Judy.
We have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to educate our communities
about the realities of our field.
JCH: How have you seen social media change the dynamic or relationship between a justice agency and the community it serves?
Kate: For a long time, the justice field has been cloaked in mystery and misconceptions. People “learn” about us from shows like CSI, Law & Order, Orange is the New Black, and Judge Judy. We have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to educate our communities about the realities of our field. Rather than relying on news media to “get it right,” even the smallest organization can operate as its own newsroom. Now we’re establishing ourselves as the most reliable source of information in breaking news situations. We’re helping to more accurately steer narratives from the beginning, and we’re correcting dangerous misinformation early and often. This transparency not only serves us and our communities, but it also holds our media more accountable for their reporting. At the end of the day, building a strategic, responsive online presence serves everyone.