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  • Tim Burrows

Campaigns Vs Consistency

The day that I 'graduated' from the Ontario Police College my grandfather handed me an envelope and said, "I think you can use this to help you get started with your new career."

Right away I was thinking of the ways I could spend my money. Some tactical gear, a boot knife, a duty bag, debt payment, down payment on a new car. Bring it on, "Thanks Grandpa." After the March Past and Review was done, the families had gone, the flags were put away and the celebrations were over I opened the envelope and found something even better than I had expected, although it would take some time to recognize the real value. There was a hand written note with the words, "I found this and I hope you can use it." In old English script on a small 6 X 4 piece of paper were the 9 simple lines that made up the corner stone of modern day policing.

Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principles of Policing.

At the time, I was kinda of, scratch that, I was really disappointed that I had been given this and not a fat cheque.

I had heard of them, I had read them, I had been told how important they were but really, this was December of 1991, those were the spring of 1829. How long would it be before they were updated and modernized?

Fast forward... 2018, same words, same meaning, same 9, still going strong and more relevant and prevalent today I think than 189 years ago.


Over the last month there have been several campaigns happening that are ridiculously predictable.

You roll out campaigns. You reassign officers to the campaign. Hold a press conference and invite the media, blast it out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Nextdoor, Nixle. You spend days and days talking about it.

In the beginning days social media gets flooded with the information. The local media covers you kick-off launch.

Perhaps you've built a catalogue of Tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts and share them with your team and encourage them to post the information.

A week later...

Crickets. Nothing.

The campaign has ended and we are back to our regularly scheduled program of memes, gifs and food pics. Not to mention the flexed and tatted arm holding some product that your officer is hocking with a discount code and kick back or the ever popular doe-eyed female in uniform and then bikini side by side.

Campaigns aren't sustainable over the long run and they fizzle out after just a few days. That's why they are usually a short term event and designed far in advance to highlight a specific topic, ongoing challenge or issue.

Campaigns are a throw back to a time when there was no social media. When the only way you could get attention to an issue is design and launch a campaign with the intent of grabbing media attention to reach your intended audience. And God forbid the day and time your launch happens something big doesn't;'t occur that draws all the media away form you. Been there, seen it.

Times have changed.


Back to Peel.

What was the first principle that Peel gave us?

“The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”

Prevent crime... crime prevention. It isn't a campaign. It isn't a one and done event. Crime prevention is a daily, ongoing, day in and day out philosophy for a better city, community, town, neighborhood, home.

Use a campaign to pump up the volume? Sure, absolutely.

But what about the other 51 weeks of the year?

This is where social media rules. This is where old thinking and old systems fail. They haven't recognized the changing times. They haven't grasped the potential of the power of this fully operational communications system.

Day in, day out, pounding out your message of crime prevention should be your paramount move. Every day you should have crime prevention information going out.

Not reactive, "The police are seeking the publics assistance..." information but bona fide, "Here are four things you can do to be safer today" or "Here are the top five ways criminals break into your home."

There is enough crime prevention information and crimes available to talk about that you will NEVER run out of post ideas or bore your audience.

Think of a campaign as the rabbit and consistency as the turtle. Consistency will win the race because the race isn't a sprint. It's a marathon.

What does consistency look like?

  • A 35% reduction in traffic fatalities.

  • A 22% reduction in guns stolen from cars

  • A global phenomena like the #9PMRoutine.

And it isn't just crime prevention that gets this hit... It's recruiting as well. Slam out the new hiring, set up a booth, have a meeting and then nothing. Recruiting is how you market and sell your department, your city, your people every single day. But that's for another post.

Watch the next campaign you see get launched by a police department or go back and look at your most recent campaign. I guarantee this is what you will see.

It's high time that social media managers and users wrap their heads around the real power of social media and start using it for what it truly can be and has been... World changing.

You don't need to change the world... just your thought process.

I still have that old piece of paper with the Principles on it. Locker doors, desk drawers, wallet... it's been through it all and its importance and value have never changed. Priceless.

Want to learn more? Just email me, and I'd be happy to answer your questions and help you develop your skills and strategies.

#communication #crimeprevention #messaging #socialmedialistening #lesm #communitysafety

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