You can't make friends in a crisis. Building your agency's reputation is a daily job, and you can create a strong foundation through storytelling.
Law enforcement often feels like it must maintain that hard and resolute persona, perhaps to impose authority and demand respect from the citizens. Lately, more and more justice professionals, police officers, and other professions falling under public service are trying to soften and humanize their image – from brave and fearless warriors to dependable protectors.
Even media tries to portray law enforcement and justice professionals in a softer and more fun way – less Law and Order, more Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Through social media, humanizing and telling the story of law enforcement agencies and its personnel can be done so the community sees what really happens – from real-life stories, heartwarming anecdotes to funny outtakes on-duty.
Today’s webinar resource is Kate Kimble, the Public Relations Manager from the Fort Collins (CO) Police Services. Her background in journalism, marketing, graphic design and social media management gave her all the necessary skills and tools to manage FCPS’s social media channels.
While social media might have taken over our personal lives, how does a public service agency maximize it to further their goals? Kate talks about that and humanizing the agency to create public trust. Specifics Kate tackled on the course include:
- The importance of social media presence for public service agencies to inform people where to find them and serve as a credible and accurate source of information.
- How injecting humor into a social media page allows people to divert attention from depressing news and negativity while engaging the community.
- The concept of a trust bank where you gain people's trust through the social media content you produce allowing people to give you the benefit of the doubt if something bad happens.
- What deters law enforcement agencies from telling their stories.
- The type of information and content that are effective in engaging followers such as stories, staff/personnel commendations, and recognition for other agencies and community members, and samples for each type of content.
- The ability of humor to break down barriers and humanize institutions and its people.
- The Benign Violation Theory that tries to dissect when humor occurs through three conditions.
- Using puns and adding funny details to educational content to make things funny or appealing to your audience.
- Practicing caution in some topics might be funny for some but may be offensive to others by letting someone else review content or jokes.
Types of humor that might not be taken positively by your audience such as:
- Joking at the expense of others
- Commenting on physical characteristics
- Too-soon jokes or those related to current events, politics and religion
- Diffusing issues about objectionable content through apologizing, taking responsibility, and not making excuses.
- Safe bet humor that have been tried and tested to be effective when it comes to social media engagement such as play on words, pop culture references, and the fool-proof cute animal content.
- How the content and stories shared via social media platforms impacts the citizens and the community by creating engagement, connection and building humanity within the organization.
Kate also shared her insights during the Q&A on the attendees’ concerns like:
- The type of content to publish
- Dealing with negative comments and feedback
- Building rapport and fostering trust and relationship within the team
- The process they do to seek permission from concerned parties about content or stories
- The process involved with taking down or editing content that might be incorrect or offensive
- Metrics used to measure success in social media outreach
- How the agency’s trust account help them to recover from controversies