I’ve heard the question asked many times, “Why post/publish this story, it’s not news.”
There are many answers to this comment. We now have the ability to not only let our residents know what is going on and what we are doing, but also to paint our agency in a positive light. An officer receiving an award, a good deed, or even small crimes that we know the media would never do a story on. How many times do we hear, “What was going on over there, I saw a lot of police cars?” With our Web site and social media sites we now can keep residents abreast of everything going on.
Here are some examples. Recently a suspect walked up to a woman in a supermarket parking lot and asked her if he could borrow her cell phone to make a phone call. The woman handed the teen her iPhone. The teen immediately ran off, stealing the phone. Our officers and Tac Team quickly ascended on the area and searched nearby parks. Within a few minutes we found the suspect and arrested him. Big deal right? Petty theft? Maybe… but for all the people that witnessed it, those in the surrounding area seeing the police activity and for the victim, it’s good to let them know we caught the bad guy, no matter how small the crime. Remember, we are in a new era in which someone with a smart phone can record what is going on and instantly upload it to the world.
Before I started working as the Public Information Manager for the Boca Raton Police Services Department
, I worked in the media and later in Public Relations for a couple of different firms. Our philosophy was always: any positive coverage in the media is good; we called it “Earned Media”, which equals getting coverage without paying for it. Now we don’t have to push those stories as hard to the media, because residents can get it straight from us, no matter how small the crime. We’ve made multiple arrests over the last month because of alert residents seeing something and calling. All those arrests never made it to the local newscast that night. But residents are not left in the dark if they follow us.
In public relations we always said, the more good stories you put out, the better the public perception of you even in trying times. In this time of budget cuts and first responders coming under public scrutiny, it’s important we keep residents as informed as possible about all the good we are doing.