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Reputation Management... Do You Hear What I Hear?

Reputation Management... Do You Hear What I Hear?

By: Tim Burrows
Date: Thursday, July 07, 2011

Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows is a recently retired sergeant with 25 years of law enforcement experience.

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In the last blog post about reputation management, we talked about you putting your best foot forward by ensuring that you were properly contributing within your social media presence. Managing your words and actions in a manner that let people know where you stand, who and what you represent, what your agency represents and always staying in line with your goals, vision, objectives, etc.

So, the next part of managing your reputation is knowing what people are saying about you, your peers, and/or your agency.

We’ve all been in social situations where someone finds out you’re a police officer and almost immediately comes the, “I have a friend that got this ticket. He wasn’t even doing anything wrong…” or the friend who got arrested for no reason, “The police just took him in and…”

Here is your opportunity to perform reputation management.

How you react to this varies but some of the considerations you will think about in your next move will depend on the details, the setting, how the story is told, who is telling the story, how many people are listening, the influence of the person… on and on.

Face to face you pretty much have to respond in some manner. It may be asking for clarification, providing education, showing sympathy, or smiling and saying, “Have a nice day.”

How you respond, what you say, your non-verbal communication, your verbal communication, all play a part of your reputation management… it all starts with you.  Using that social situation, it maybe best to use one of the 5 Rs:

1.) Repair – a minor problem fixed with education or a kind word.
2.) Rescue – something is very wrong and you will do a little damage control.
3.) Reiterate – a good deed, act, or gesture and you will support it.
4.) Rectify – can you fix the problem, then do it.
5.) Retreat – oh boy!! Where is the closest exit?

Depending on how the situation started with the original officer your response or lack thereof sets the reputation management on its course.

In social media, you will encounter the same situations. Depending on how engaged you are with your online community may determine how much of this you are doing.  But no matter what, if you don’t hear what the community is saying, how can you help?

You need to hear and there are many ways to do this depending on how you and your agency want to handle your presence.  

There are professional tools available that allow monitoring to be done by third parties that are quite remarkable in terms of the depth and scope of the information that will be monitored.  Tone and temperature of the conversations taking place using specific keywords can be measured along with where your message is going and who is receiving it, right down to what the public does with your message.  These tools also measure what the public’s message is to you.

On a smaller scale, you can do some of this yourself using various tools such as HootSuite, TweetDeck, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, YouTube Insight, Technorati, RSS feeds to e-mail alerts, Google Alerts. These are all tools that are free* and using key words, comment notification, viewing them your self can all give you a pretty good idea of what is going on with your presence.
(* Some of these tools require a premium account depending on what you are doing and what you are trying to measure, which may cost money.)

I use all of the above to see what is being said, the questions being asked, the comments being made, and the views being done. My first priority of listening is done through this and once you get accustomed to watching/listening, it can be done fairly quickly after you have established it.

But the key is you have to do it whether you contract it out, or do it yourself. I like to put it this way.

Say someone says something that is completely wrong or way out of context about something you or your agency has done on Facebook. The story gets shared with a few hundred people. Then it migrates over to Twitter and shared with a few hundred more people. Broken telephone has happened along the way and someone links a video to it, which is even more out of context and suddenly, your agency is enjoying a battering from the community.

The lasting impression is whatever the tone and temperature of the comments have become and if you aren’t in a position to hear it, you aren’t in a position to do anything about it.

By listening, “hear what I hear,” you could be injecting yourself in the conversation. Pointing out the reality, clearing up misconceptions or letting people know where the story may have went off the tracks.

Sure that’s a worst-case scenario. What about a member of the public who wants to say, “Thank you” to your agency for a great job one of your officers did? It would be great to say, “You’re welcome”, wouldn’t it? But if you aren’t listening…you can’t hear it.

So, what do you do next? It started with you; you are now hearing, but what about when it all goes wrong? You’ll have to wait for part III of my Reputation Management series.
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    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.

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    Dionne Waugh

    Dionne Waugh is the Digital Communications Manager for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, which is the largest, full-service sheriff’s office in the state of Colorado. Prior to that, she spent more than six years creating and leading the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department’s social media efforts, which led to international acclaim and recognition.

    She has spoken about law enforcement and social media at more than a dozen conferences across the country in addition to four IACP annual conferences. Waugh is a former newspaper reporter who wrote about crime, police, and the court system for several years. That experience and an ingrained curiosity for what makes people tick has fueled her desire to improve communication between people. Follow Dionne on Twitter @JeffCoSheriffCo.

    IACP Center for Social Media

    IACP's Center for Social Media serves as a clearinghouse of information and no-cost resources to help law enforcement personnel to develop or enhance their agency's use of social media and integrate Web 2.0 tools into agency operations. The Center is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

    Leon Robertson

    Officer Leon Robertson is the Social Media Coordinator for the Hampton Police Division. Robertson has developed internationally recognized public safety messages, including the Jingle Bells “Holiday Safety Remix” in December 2013. He has extensive experience in graphic design, video & audio production, and managing various social media platforms. You can follow Officer Robertson’s efforts with the Hampton Police Division on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Tracy Phillips

    Tracy is a Senior Project Specialist with the IACP. She is responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of the Web site and coordinating the site's social networking plan. In addition, Ms. Phillips provides writing, editorial, and technical assistance on a variety of association projects and activities, including police management studies, job analyses, executives searches, federal grants, and various research projects and proposals. She has more than 10 years of experience in state and local government, including work as a management analyst, performance auditor, and crime analyst. Ms. Phillips holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Georgia and a bachelor's from Clemson University.

    Want to hear more from Tracy Phillips? Follow her and the Discover Policing team on TwitterFacebook, and on the Inside Discover Policing blog. You can also network with other police recruitment professionals in the Law Enforcement Recruitment LinkedIn group.

    Zach Perron

    Lieutenant Zach Perron is the public affairs manager for the Palo Alto (CA) Police Department. Zach was a 2014 visiting fellow at the IACP in the Center for Social Media. He serves on the steering committee for the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG), and is a member of the US. Department of Homeland Security's Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG). He holds a bachelor's degree in American Studies from Stanford University and is now pursuing a graduate education at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, California.  You can follow him on Twitter: @zpPAPD.

    Dave Norris

    Sergeant Dave Norris is a 21 year veteran of the City of San Mateo Police Department. He has worked in a number of positions including Juvenile Detective, Field Training Officer, Narcotics Detective, and Patrol Supervisor. Dave is currently assigned to Community and Media Relations and oversees day-to-day functions that involve the relationship between the police, the community, and the media. Dave is dedicated to the increase of community engagement through the use of social media. Under his management, San Mateo PD's direct subscribers to community alerts and public safety messaging has grown from several hundred to over 22,000.

    Chris Hsiung

    Captain Chris Hsiung commands the Field Operations Division at the Mountain View Police Department in California. Through the department Community Action and Information Unit (CAIU), he manages strategy, community engagement, and growth through the police department social media channels. Chris has been serving the Mountain View community for over 19 years and has held a variety of assignments within MVPD. These include detective assignments in Property Crimes, Person Crimes, and High Tech Crimes as well as collateral assignments on SWAT and the Field Evidence Team. He also serves on the planning committee for the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG). You can follow him on Twitter @chMtnViewPD.

    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.

    Billy Grogan

    Billy Grogan is the Chief of Police for the Dunwoody Police Department in Georgia. Chief Grogan was hired on December 17, 2008, after serving 28 years with the Marietta, Georgia, Police Department, to start a brand new department. On April 1, 2009, the Dunwoody Police Department began operations with 40 sworn officers and eight civilians providing police services to the 47,000+ residents of the City of Dunwoody. Chief Grogan embraced the use of social media from day one of operations. The Dunwoody Police Department began using Twitter the first day and has added Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Vine to their arsenal since then as effective tools to market their department and engage their community. Chief Grogan has written about the benefits of law enforcements use of social media, participated in several social media focus groups and lectured at the IACP, Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, COPS Conference, and many other venues. Follow Chief Grogan on Twitter @ChiefGrogan and the Dunwoody Police Department @DunwoodyPolice.

    Mark Economou

    Mark Economou is the Public Information Officer for the Boca Raton Police Department in Boca Raton, Florida. His media and public relations background spans nearly 20 years. Spending nearly 15 years in radio and television news, Economou held many positions from assignment editor, reporter, anchor, and executive editor. After that, he served as the Director of Media Relations for Cote & D'Ambrosio, a Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising firm in Wickford, RI. He then served as head of Media Relations for Citizens Bank of Rhode Island, the 9th largest bank in the United States. Follow Mark on Twitter @BocaPolice.

    Frank Domizio

    Corporal Frank Domizio has been with the Philadelphia Police Department since 1997. He is currently assigned to the FBI’s Regional Computer Forensics Lab as a Forensic Examiner. Previously he was assigned to the Department's Office of Media Relations and Public Affairs where he was the Social and Digital Media Manager. Frank has spoke at several industry conferences and major universities on the topics of social media and content strategy.

    Tim Burrows

    Tim Burrows was a sworn police officer for 25 years with experience in front line operations, primary response, traffic, detective operations, and supervision. He has training in a broad spectrum of policing responsibilities including IMS, Emergency Management, computer assisted technology investigations, leadership, community policing, and crisis communications. Tim left policing but has remained involved through consulting with law enforcement on the advancement of communications and social media. Tim runs #CopChat on Wednesday nights at 9pm ET, to allow police and community members to connect and break down barriers. To learn more about him you can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook or click here to contact him

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    The Social Media Beat periodically features guest bloggers who share their perspective on the topic of social media and law enforcement. These individuals are law enforcement professionals; sworn and civilian personnel from agencies of all types and sizes throughout the world. If you are interested in guest blogging, please send your request to All bloggers must be affiliated with a law enforcement agency or educational institution. We cannot accept blog entries from vendors or others working in a for-profit capacity.

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