Today’s post is the eighth in a series of blog posts highlighting IACP 2013 social media workshops. This post is about the Using Video to Communicate with the Public session on Tuesday, October 22.
I’d like to start off this blog by personally thanking the Tampa Police Department for permanently making me think of them every time I hear Carly Rae Jepson’s catchy “Call Me Maybe” song.
But that was exactly the whole point of their creative use of video to reach their audience. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the amazing video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmBEy1epBio
) they put together using an iPad and video editing software. They used their own employees lip-syncing to the popular tune to share their message about the importance of calling police.
“This is communication. Music is the universal language,” explains Tampa PD’s Media Relations Director Laura McElroy.
McElroy’s presentation with Boca Raton Police’s Mark Economou showcased some of the groundbreaking ways they are using video to interact with their communities as well as why it’s important and popular to use video.
In explaining how popular video is, Mark highlighted the incredible fact that 30 hours of video is updated per minute on YouTube. He also showed the example of the two different popes. Can you spot the single cell phone in the top image vs. how many people don’t have cell phones or iPads in the second?
“It’s all about what works for your agency,” Mark said.
The top three issues that agencies seem to struggle with, both Mark and Laura talked about, was cost, internal and external buy-in, and time management/workload.
When it came to the Call Me Maybe video, Laura said there were multiple conversations with her chief before she was convinced it should move forward and that she should even be in it. After the YouTube video premiered and went viral, generating tons of positive feedback from the community, press recognition, public relations awards, and multiple offers from other officers to volunteer in future videos, there were still some officers who criticized it.
McElroy’s response? “It’s not FOR you. It’s for the community, especially young people and those people thinking about committing crimes.”
Both Laura and Mark emphasized the importance of having support and buy-in from the top of their agency to try something new like this with video, and both are lucky to have it.
Mark’s “Boca Beats in 60 Beats” video campaign (http://www.youtube.com/user/bocapolice
) is an extremely popular feature he started using a simple webcam at his desk. He simply writes up a short script based on the overnight crime report and then talks to the camera about what occurred as well as offers safety tips based on those incidents.” The videos are rarely longer than 60 seconds, and are an interesting, personal and quick way to engage and inform the Boca Raton community using video.
When it comes to financing their video endeavors, both have found different ways to do so without using taxpayer funds, removing one of the top things people could complain about it. In Tampa, they have used their own personal time, raised money from the community and partnered with community members who funded certain projects.
When it comes to finding the time, both admitted that it can be challenging at times, especially given that they’re also responsible for responding to media inquiries, crime scenes and internal department newsletters, among other responsibilities.
Mark says he’s been able to make the time by splitting the workload with a coworker. Some days, she handles all the media inquiries while he’s able to focus solely on creating video campaigns.
Laura says it has helped for them to all have lunch together where they can take a mental break and regroup.
“It doesn’t take a lot of time,” she says. “These videos are really good for department morale. Then you realize you’re having fun doing it.”
Both Boca Raton Police and Tampa Police have some great plans coming up for future videos that I don’t want to spoil here, but I will say that both have some very talented people in their public affairs offices who I’m sure would gladly offer advice to other agencies looking to use video to communicate with the public.
In the end, Laura sums it up nicely with this statement: “We’re always looking for ways to engage the younger demographic and video is the way to do that.”