Does your police department have a brand? I’m not talking about a circle L or a lazy T for all you cowpokes, but rather an idea, image, or message that the public associates with your agency. Marketing guru Seth Godin further defines a brand as “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
So, essentially, your brand can be viewed as how people feel about and react to you.
Marketing and branding dominate the private sector. We can all rattle off popular products and their corresponding logos and tag lines. But it can also be found in the public sector. Most cities have a logo and a slogan, and many also have coordinated marketing plans used to attract economic development and promote tourism.
While it may sound a little nontraditional, there’s no harm in thinking of your department as a “brand” unto itself, particularly when it comes to recruiting.
How your department is perceived by the public is important. As the only public safety provider in town, you have a corner on the market, but naturally you want to be seen as fair, responsive, and ethical public servants. Consider too how you are perceived by jobseekers. As an employer, you likely are not the only game in town. While the economy is tight, many departments are hiring. Why should top talent from the local criminal justice program (or wherever) work for YOU over the agency down the road? What sets you apart? Maybe it’s your branding and marketing…
The role social media plays in cultivating and promoting your brand to the minds of community members, including jobseekers, continues to grow. A recent study
showed that about 50% of consumers think a brand’s Facebook page is more useful than a brand’s website. Further, about 82% of respondents said a Facebook page is a good place to interact with a brand.
Clearly, from a recruiting perspective, the flexibility, immediacy, and interactive nature of social media, Facebook in particular, make it a very powerful tool for connecting with jobseekers and cultivating your police department’s image.
What role do you think marketing and branding play in policing, particularly in fostering relationships with citizens and prospective recruits?