The Social Media Beat

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The Social Media Beat

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Do You Do Training on Personal Use of Social Media for Your Employees? Here's Why it Really is a Good Idea

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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It’s been said by many an expert – our own employees are our best “brand ambassadors”. If people see their work as important, and feel valued and rewarded, they’ll let others know. Personal experience shared word-of-mouth speaks more to building social capital than the highest paid advertisement. And that’s good and bad. A disparaging word about a brand, especially from an “insider” can tarnish and smear that brand almost immediately as comments, fair or unfair are shared and amplified on social media. Unprofessional or unethical statements cost people their jobs in a huge variety of careers. But the loss of public trust has far-reaching consequences for law enforcement. Comments perceived as biased and posted electronically by a member of law enforcement get shared by hundreds and reported on by media. Biased public comments are in sharp contrast to perhaps the most important aspect of policing; fair and equitable treatment for all. When a member of law enf ...

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bringing Your Social Media Audience as Close as Nextdoor

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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Think about it – a lot of us take a lot of time to produce some really great social media posts. We post on a variety of platforms with content that’s creative and engaging, even entertaining. It’s fun to see the number of people reached and count the likes. All these posts are designed to do something very important to the livability of our communities – build relationships to improve public safety. Our goal for using electronic communication is to prompt face to face communication among residents and officers about how our neighborhoods can be safer places. As of Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, Boise Police could engage with some 9,230 people via a platform called Nextdoor.com. We have greater potential outreach using Facebook and Twitter and engaging those audiences has created a lot of opportunities for public safety education. So, what’s the difference? All the connections via Nextdoor are local. The Nextdoor.com audience is folks who actually live in the City of Boise. Led by t ...

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Capturing a Moment: How IACP PIO Training Brought Inspiration at Just the Right Time

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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Boise Police Department recently had a “social media moment.” You know, one of those posts that, while perhaps not viral, shot well above the normal views, shares, etc. A couple cool things about this moment: first, it brought back some basics about interactions and the relationship our department has with our community; second, as it was happening, several names of some great chiefs and PIOs kept coming to my mind that gave me inspiration to ask, “what would (insert name here) do?” What happened: On May 30th, BPD School Resource Officer Russ Swift retired. After ten years serving at a local junior high, Officer Swift’s wishes were to hold his retirement ceremony at the school during their annual end of the school year achievement assembly. Pretty cool. The school gave permission for media and our department to cover the event. A media release was sent out, but it turned out to be a busy news day and no media showed up. That was too bad but it happens, so I covered it for ...

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Is Your “Voice” Coming Through on Social Media? - Using Social Media to Build Confidence and Trust

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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We do a lot of writing and talking about great new techniques and strategies for social media, all of which are absolutely valuable. We need to learn about the opportunities available through new platforms or new strategies for social media platforms already in use. But be sure to build into your training the most important strategy of all that goes to the very heart of why we engage in social media in the first place – to build relationships that strengthen the public’s confidence and trust in our agencies with the goal of making our communities safe, healthy places to live and work. What is the “voice” your community hears when they tune into your social media? Do your posts read like a police report, or do people hear humility and compassion? Are you “just the facts, ma’am,” or do you begin and end your posts by reminding people the reason we do our jobs is because we truly care about citizens' safety. Do your posts urge citizen assistance or do you thank people ...

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Friday, September 06, 2013

Bringing Social Media Home – To Your Website

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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Home is where the heart is.  There’s no place like home. Our Internet home is our agency’s website, and as we are so often busy with looking at the newest or shiniest tool in our social media toolbox, here’s a thought - stop every now and then and ask yourself, how shiny, useful, and cool is my website? If your website is not shiny, useful and cool, before you go any further promoting social media, go home and fix up your website. An agency’s website is its Internet presence. Our website establishes our credibility and is where people will most often find us online. A police agency with 20 officers or 2,000 officers can present itself as awesome and service-oriented depending on the agency’s website. How our agency’s website appears shows how seriously we take our business, where our focus is, and what we want people to know or think about us. We have absolute control over how dynamic, progressive, and customer focused our agency appears via our website. ...

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Tweeting the Big Event: Keep a Presence During Big Event So When It Hits the Fan…

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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It’s summer, the weather is warming and it’s the season when parks and venues become crowded with large public events. In his June 6 blog post, Sgt. Dave Norris from San Mateo had great advice and ideas from a recent large event in his community. Many of us are also preparing for summertime events that will attract large crowds in hot temperatures and sometimes involve alcohol. As Sgt. Norris’s example showed very well, planning ahead is key. •    Prepare predictable tweets/posts ahead of time for use during event. The location of water, first aid, lost child stations, road closures, and taxi areas are examples. •    Prepare tweets for various outcomes. If all goes well, thank people for attending and using public transportation. If a fight breaks out, traffic is worse than expected, an accident causes injury, etc., plan ahead as to what your message will be so you can communicate quickly. •    People will want to help ...

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Reminds Us - The Importance of Rumor Control on Social Media

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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Perhaps you saw this tweet on Wednesday, April 17th:   Despite reports to the contrary there has not been an arrest in the Marathon attack. @Boston_Police To their credit, despite trying to manage a chaotic week in their city, Boston Police were on top of monitoring social media. The agency was able to quickly jump on Twitter and renounce misinformation. Perhaps you also saw a tweet like this coming shortly afterwards: #CNN is reporting that#letsgetitright has won the 2013 Kentucky Derby! You heard it here first. @The_LifeofRiley  (tweeted 4-18, two weeks before the Derby) It's funny to read but addresses a very real and serious issue we in law enforcement need to confront in this day of instant, fragmented release of news. It may not be factual. It was very reassuring to read in an article posted April 18th on examiner.com: Follow the Boston Police Department on Twitter @Boston_Police and the FBI @FBIPressoffice for the most accurate information on the Boston Marathon bombings ...

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Broaden Your Content - Broaden Your Audience

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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Know anyone who always seems to talk about the same ‘ole thing? And have you ever avoided that person because that’s not what you felt like discussing? How about a politician who only promotes one issue, so when other issues are discussed, that politician is irrelevant? The constituents eventually feel cheated and that politician doesn’t last long in office. Most of us have a variety of topics we’re interested in that we appreciate hearing and talking about. As police agencies, we are experts in public safety. That’s our mission and that is our message. But let’s face it – public safety is not always what everyone wants to hear about. Crime and posts of suspect photos and road closures can begin to look pretty gloomy. A lot of law enforcement Facebook pages have a great variety of content! But there are still quite a number that also look and read like a blotter and a jail roster. Not that crime and booking photos are bad, but with social media, there’s a tri ...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Buckling Up Could Save Your Giblets! (Stolen from the best!)

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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Okay, not really stolen, but borrowed with the best of intentions. If you’re not using TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov, you’re missing out on a fantastic resource for free, relevant, timely social media content. Most importantly, the site gives us professionally done traffic safety information that complements our own enforcement and ties even a small local agency into current national traffic safety campaigns. NHTSA seems to be putting even more effort and resources into this site for the benefit of local law enforcement messaging. As NHTSA describes on their own site: Welcome to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration communications resource for States, partner organizations, and highway safety professionals. This is our one-stop-shop for the latest communications news, campaign materials, and marketing techniques. The site includes a variety of media, including Internet banner ads (that could also be Facebook cover photos), fact sheets, flyers, and pamphlets in both English ...

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Friday, October 26, 2012

No Better Time to Advocate & Educate for the Safety of Our Officers

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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Scrolling down the news feed on my personal Facebook page last night, I saw a post from a friend who works for a police agency in Alaska. She had shared a post on the death this week of Nassau County, New York, Police Officer Arthur Lopez tragically and senselessly killed in the line of duty. I read her post shortly after I’d read the latest update on two deputies from our neighboring Canyon County, Idaho who’d been shot the night before attempting to serve a warrant. One deputy remains in a Boise hospital in critical condition as of this writing. On the Boise Police Facebook page, I shared a link to the latest news update on our local deputies, noting all involved were in our thoughts and prayers for healing. We had many citizens post supporting comments. Then one woman’s post asked, “What can we do to help?” That’s a really good question. What can we, who work in social media for law enforcement agencies do to support officer safety? I think about this all the time ...

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About This Blog

So you have found, or perhaps stumbled upon, The Social Media Beat, the blog for the IACP Center for Social Media Web site. The Social Media Beat is about three things: social media, law enforcement, and perspective. Here you will find a fresh outlook on the issues that are affecting law enforcement agencies and their personnel when it comes to social media.

Social media is taking the world by storm. Social networks, blogs, photo and video sharing sites, and virtual communities are changing the way people live, work, and play. These tools present unique opportunities as well as challenges to the law enforcement community.  The Social Media Beat brings together a team of bloggers who will speak directly to you about hot topics and current issues.

Bloggers include IACP staff and practitioners in the field who can provide a unique front-line perspective. Our team cares about social media and wants to ensure that law enforcement across the country are knowledgeable and well-equipped to incorporate this technology.

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About the Authors

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise Police Department and has served in that role since October, 2003. Lynn also serves at the PIO for the Boise Fire Department. Lynn authors and manages the social media outreach for Boise Police and often acts as media spokesperson. She advises officers from patrol to command staff on media and public communications skills. Lynn joined the Boise Police Department after 17 years as a television reporter, producer, anchor, and news director. Lynn regularly instructs new officers at the Boise Police Academy and has given media and public communications presentations to dozens of federal, state, and local emergency responder agencies. Follow Lynn and Boise Police on Twitter @BoisePD.

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