No complaining-offer solutions-Safety-PIO-SM-14-008

14-008: No complaining – offer solutions
Agency: Long Beach Fire Topic(s):         Public Perception and Solutions
Date: Fall 2014 Platform:        Twitter

Complaining or venting on social media is fairly common. However, as an official agency, public displays of affliction does not portray the best image. Long Beach Fire expressed some displeasure on Twitter when discussing the their pilot program.

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After reading this tweet, the public’s perception is that if 9-1-1 is called, no ambulances will respond. This is irresponsible and wrong. (Almost all emergency services have mutual aid agreements or memorandum of understandings in place.)

 

Positioning your agency as a fear mongerer or the Harbinger of Evil will only further distance yourself from people who would be willing to help your cause. Inform them of dangers, but more importantly, engage them publically on social.

 

If there is internal displeasure with the new staffing models, be proactive and offer transparent solutions in the tweet. Cite websites that provide industry information. Publically share statistical data that supports changes with current programs. These online tactics will help direct and educate the general public on how to be better informed on other program and possible other options yet unexplored.

 

Additionally you can rally your constituents behind better initiatives by engaging with them publically via social media. It demonstrates that your department’s community involvement is a key part of a better solution.

As an official account, Twitter’s 140-character limit is really no place to moan/groan.

A more effective tweet could have read:

LBFD resources are maxed out. #Firefighters cannot provide adequate #Paramedic service to our communities. Help us find a solution <insert link here>

By phrasing it this way:

  1. You identify that resources are…well…maxed out.
  2. You use hashtags (#Firefighters and #Paramedic) that will help increase visibility in your tweets.
  3. You stress the importance of providing dedicated service to your community.
  4. You provide a traceable/measureable link that informs and helps bring visibility to this critical situation.

Time is valuable, so tweet good stuff.

@rusnivek

***To download this as a single-page printable format, click this file:

No complaining-offer solutions-Safety-PIO-SM-14-008

Your image on social by monitoring your name Safety-PIO-SM-14-007

14-007: Your image on social by monitoring your name
Agency: Lakewood Fire Topic(s):         Monitoring your name/branding
Date: Fall 2014 Platform:        Twitter

Monitoring your namesake has been debated for years. But with decreased staffing and less time to do more with less, many agencies are bypassing this critical piece of community relations and image/branding. A good example is when a citizen commented on Lakewood Fire’s SUV parking.

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Everyone has a camera these days. We use them not only to capture memories and precious moments, but also for documentation and shaming. I believe Todd was going for the public safety shaming factor here. I am unsure on the previous relationship between Todd and Lakewood, but there was never a response on Twitter back to Todd. Truth be told, these days, unanswered public questions are sometimes perceived as a government agency cover-ups/issues. Similar to the “No comment” – a non-response might even be worse.

How do you monitor your agency’s name or any derivatives? Try these free services: Google Alerts, search columns in TweetDeck or Hootsuite, or frequent basic vanity searches on any search engine or social media platforms.

While Todd’s use of hashtags is fairly standard social media malarkey, a swift response with a timely and direct reply to Todd’s tweet would help stop the perception that LFD is breaking the law or even setting a bad example. Remember, social media is about digital interaction.

The response could also be a teaching point so share with your audience some insight into your normal operations with a simple message on Fire Prevention activities – like hydrant testing. And using the hashtag #FirePrevention pulls up thousands of tweets about educating the public specifically in fire safety.

An effective @reply response to Todd’s tweet could have read:

@stwrs1974 During an emergency, it’s tough to find safe parking. FYI-we also check/flush hydrants twice a year too #FirePrevention 

By phrasing it this way:

  1. You immediately address the issue directly with the citizen citing the issue.
  2. You provide insight into scene safety during an emergency.
  3. You call attention to your normal operations (in this case-hydrant flushing).
  4. You use the hashtag #FirePrevention to call attention to…well…Fire Prevention.
  5. You show the general public you care about your image and want to get the story right.

Time is valuable, so tweet good stuff.

@rusnivek

***To download this as a single-page printable format, click this file:

YourImageOnSocialByMonitoringYourName-Safety-PIO-SM-14-007

 

A lonely shortened Facebook link on Twitter – Safety-PIO-SM-14-004

14-004: A lonely shortened Facebook link on Twitter
Agency: South Central Sierra Interagency IMT Topic(s):         Shared information/update
Date: Summer 2014 Platform:        Twitter

 

Speed is primarily the reason why everyone loves social media…especially Twitter. Many agencies use social media to provide updates and information when assigned to certain incidents. That’s what the South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team did during the French Fire in California when they pushed this lonely shortened Facebook link out on Twitter.

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I get that 140 character max on Twitter is short…and you have lots to say…and you don’t have time…and blah blah blah. Everyone else doesn’t have time too. But pushing a non-descript link, does raise a concern that perhaps your account has been compromised by spam bots. Your agency has worked diligently to establish solid working relationships. During an emergency is the WORST time for your audience to question and/or ignore your official accounts with trusted reliable information.

 

If your social media plan calls for directing all efforts to Facebook as the primary source of information, a Public Information Officer (PIO) should still take the time to provide a little information (like a short description) on other platforms driving the traffic to that primary source. Providing just a link is not enough.

In the PIO business, we are forced to be precise, however just providing a link pertaining to a dangerous situation or disasters will not be enough to satiate the Twittersphere’s social interest.

 

Audiences change on various social media platforms, however, many agencies *think* they are all the same.

Knowing your audience is the hallmark of success. If you pair your Facebook and Twitter accounts to save time and to pass the exact same message – you should consider separating them now. Remember, you write/post/share information differently on various social media platforms.

 

A more effective tweet could have read:

Still assigned to the French Fire here in California-Check out pictures frm @BLMNational Interagency Fire fb.me/1BV35Tytx #CAWildfire

By phrasing it this way:

  1. You have more visibility by informing your followers that your team is still assigned to the incident.
  2. The link looks less spammy and readers know what the specific content is in the link.
  3. Your #hashtag will give more information about the current overall disaster/emergency.
  4. Your readers are likely to click on this hyperlink because it will take them to a picture. People love pictures.
  5. Your agency shows coordinated efforts with national response agencies when you use @mentions on twitter.

 

Time is valuable, so tweet good stuff.

 

@rusnivek

 

***To download this as a single-page printable format, click this: ALonelyShortenedFacebookLinkOnTwitter-Safety-PIO-SM-14-004a

cropped-1235 - Copy

Write For Different Platforms-Safety-PIO-SM-14-003

14-003: Write for Different Platforms

Agency: Rocky Mountain Area IMT

Topic(s):         Social Media Platform Specific Messaging

Date: Summer 2014

Platform(s):    Press Release vs Twitter

Despite the message being essentially the same, every communications platform is different.

Speed is important, but correctly addressing your audience is critical in the world of public information.

On July 1, 2014, this tweet was posted on the Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team’s feed during the Eightmile Fire while deployed in Canon City, Colorado.

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“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” In all caps? All caps use on social media portrays yelling. Professionals should portray calm/control.

Twitter’s social media platform premise is a fast microblog service focusing on immediate information. This templated press release lingo (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) is not necessary. Every tweet is automatically time/date stamped including matching the recipients’ time zone. Do not waste your valuable 140 characters.

To me, this was a cut-and-paste action, or even worse yet, they just linked the agency’s Facebook and Twitter accounts together. No time was spent in addressing the various platforms used to push this valuable information. Remember, PIO actions on each platform in social media are not generic, they are specific. We talk about safety to kids differently than we inform adults on safety right? Likewise, we should address our audiences on social media accordingly to the platform they use.

A more effective tweet could have read:

“Updated information & stats on the #Eightmile Fire ongoing in Colorado can be found here fb.me/6KArLmgFr

By phrasing it this way:

  1. The tweet is shorter and more concise.
  2. Tweet identifies where the Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team is deployed.
  3. The main point of contact is identified on the Facebook link provided if more specific information is needed.
  4. Shorter messaging will allow your followers to retweet/repost and amplify your information.
  5. The use of hashtags will help audiences find information about the #Eightmile Fire and identify the Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team as a trusted source of information.

Know the differences in mainstream social media platforms because what will work on one old platform (press release) will NOT work on newer platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…) Know social media and use their amenities to your advantage.

 Time is valuable, so post good stuff.

@rusnivek

***To download this as a single-page printable format, click this: WriteForDifferentPlatforms-Safety-PIO-SM-14-003