‘Not just a gun and a badge’

“Police officers are human,” Training Officer Jeffrey Dunn tells members of the Sarasota Police Department’s Citizens Academy. “Some of them do stupid things sometimes.”

And some of them do good and brave things. Genevieve Judge, the department’s public information officer, wants to get both of those messages to the media and the public. She knows that a fast, honest response to a negative situation can build trust. And that publicizing the positive things officers do can help build understanding and goodwill.

“There are good police officers and there are bad police officers,” Judge says. “It’s how you handle the situation that people will remember. We can ignore it or we can stay in front of it. Even if we’re not proud of it, I’d rather people hear about it from us so they get the whole story.”

Media savvy
To that end, Judge, a veteran television reporter and videographer, launched the department into the world of social sharing when she came on board in 2013, creating a dialog with residents on the major networks. With the backing of Chief Bernadette DiPino, she routinely posts on Facebook, Twitter (@SarasotaPD), YouTube,  and Instagram.

Judge covers all major public events, does ride-alongs with officers called Tweet from the Beat and shoots video for initiatives like Click It or Ticket and Shop with a Cop, a program for children that runs around the holidays. She also fields questions and requests for arrest reports from journalists who also try to balance coverage, often pitting citizens against the police and putting the department on the defense.

Like the academy itself, the social media feed gives residents a behind-the-scenes look at the department and its personnel. It helps them balance the news they see and hear from other sources. “I want people to see it on our social networks before they see it anywhere else,” Judge says. “That way we own it and it comes from a trusted source.”

The publicity serves another purpose. “It shows our officers are not just a gun and a badge. They are human.”

Street smart
No one know that better than Jeff Dunn, who started with the Bradenton Police Department in 1992 and has worked on the K-9, SWAT and field training teams. In addition to organizing the citizen’s academy, he trains recruits and experienced officers in diversity, firearms, non-lethal weapons and law-enforcement policies and procedures.

“It’s not the most dangerous job but it’s the most rewarding. In police work, anything that goes wrong comes back to training. We make sure everything is correct and accurate and up to date.”

Firing-range practice is essential but training must encompass real-world situations. That’s why Dunn uses scenario-based training, creating events that are realistic, such as putting officers in situations that require them to use defensive tactics. “Not many police officers are attacked by paper targets.”

I’m sure there are days when Genevieve Judge feels the same way.

Next: defensive tactics.

Jeff Widmer is the author of The Spirit of Swiftwater and other works.

Jeff Dunn tours the SWAT ready room with members of the SPD Citizens Academy

Jeff Dunn tours the SWAT ready room with members of the SPD Citizens Academy

Non-profits can profit from social media

How can non-profit organizations use social media to further their cause? Writing in Great Britain’s The Guardian, David Lawrance, head of development at The Clare Foundation, says that charities and other non-commercial organizations can boost donations and energize volunteers . . . if they adopt the practices of the business world.

“A recent survey showed that UK charitable organisations have doubled their supporters on key social media channels in the past year,” he writes. “Yet, for many charities, the vastness of the social media landscape is too daunting to venture into.”

The solution, he says, is “to bring established commercial methods, business expertise and entrepreneurism to the voluntary sector.” As PR and social media strategist for a U.S-based marketing agency, I work with for-profit and non-profit organizations to plan and execute their entry into the world of social marketing. Lawrance’s strategy can work for both sectors. I’ve condensed his approach into three key points:

  • Choose your network based on its audience. LinkedIn attracts professionals. It’s a great place to establish your expertise with key opinion leaders, including the media, who can spread your message. Facebook attracts a sociable audience eager to share personal information. With its punchy headlines and live links, Twitter can serve as a hybrid between those two, as well as a news feed for your organization.
  • Make an emotional connection. Show the people you’re helping. Their stories will motivate volunteers and sway donors. “Donations will be more forthcoming if [services] could help somebody just like them/their mum/their child/their pet/their friend,” Lawrance says.
  • Use supporters as ambassadors to amplify the message. Encourage supporters to “like”, re-tweet, send links, write blogs and upload photos and video. They have greater credibility with their peers. Let them tell your story.

Non-profits can profit from social media. They just need to get down to business.

Jeff Widmer is a PR and social media strategist.

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Use Instagram for picture-perfect brands

Looking to build a brand for your organization or yourself? It’s a snap with photo sharing site Instagram.

Next to Pinterest, Instagram is one of the Internet’s newest and most popular sites. (Facebook acquired the company in April for $1 billion.) Instagram is also simple to use. With your smartphone you take a photo, choose a filter to alter its look and post it to Instagram. You can share the photo simultaneously on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. And you can “like” and be liked by followers.

Individuals can use Instagram to chronicle their lives, their vacations, their cities and towns. Businesses can use Instagram to forge closer ties with their customers. Two examples: Women’s online retailer ShopExcessBaggage created a trend-setting page where followers can post and vote on popular styles. And accessory boutique RequiredFlair uses Instagram to showcase the many ways to wear the company’s jewelry. The experience is visual, personal and interactive—all of the ingredients for social sharing.

Ready to share your brand? Here are a few tips from Mobile Media Lab co-founder Brian DiFeo.

  • Start with your existing audience. Announce your presence on Instagram on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter and through communications channels such as websites, email lists and newsletters.
  • Post photos that are consistent with your brand, or that will advance your causes.
  • Use relevant hashtags such as #fashion so users searching Twitter will discover your work.
  • Run contests that encourage interaction with followers.

Once you’ve collected a few photos on Instagram you’ll want a central place to display them. While you can view your collection on a smartphone you can’t see them at the Instagram website. For that you’ll need another service like Gramfeed, which can display your work and that of the people and companies you follow. From there you can pin your images to Pinterest. You can see my collections at Gramfeed and Pinterest.

Want more information? Mashable has a solid primer on its website.

— Jeff Widmer

Media extend reach through expanded tweets

Starting this week you can read snippets of articles or watch moments from TV shows like BET’s 106 & Park, all from inside a tweet, as the world’s leading micro-blogger attempts to monetize its service.

In a blog post Twitter said it is expanding the offering to help users discover new content. Chances are good that the goal is to expand the reach of media partners into the Twitterverse in a way that’s less intrusive than advertising. Twitter augmented the initiative with partners like Lifetime, Dailymotion, The New York Times, Der Spiegel online and audio provider Soundcloud. Twitter did not disclose details of compensation by its media partners.

When users expand a tweet containing a news article they’ll see a headline, introduction and sometimes the Twitter accounts of the publisher and writer. The feature basically works as a preview function similar to that found on Google search pages. Users can then read the article, follow the account, reply, favorite or retweet.

Twitter had offered expanded tweets from YouTube and Instagram. This week’s announcement brings bigger media players into the picture. Or the tweet.

— Jeff Widmer

Twitter use remains steady

Fifteen percent of online adults use Twitter, about the same number who said they used the microblogging service last May, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. As of February 2012, some 15% of online adults use Twitter; 8% do so on a typical day. Overall Twitter adoption remains steady, as the 15% of online adults who use Twitter is similar to the 13% of such adults who did so in May 2011.

“At the same time, the proportion of online adults who use Twitter on a typical day has doubled since May 2011 and has quadrupled since late 2010—at that point just 2% of online adults used Twitter on a typical day,” according to the center. “The rise of smartphones might account for some of the uptick in usage because smartphone users are particularly likely to be using Twitter.”

Twitter use is skewing younger, however. While Twitter use within the overall population remained steady over the last year, adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are the exception. Nearly one-third of Internet users in this age group now use Twitter, up from 18% in May of 2011 and 16% in late 2010. Twitter use by those in their mid-20s to mid-40s largely leveled off in the last year.

You can read the full findings here.

— Jeff Widmer

The business end of social media

What’s the hottest trend in social media and how can we jump on it? If your marketing team is investing in this brave new world, those are the wrong questions to ask. That according to Jay Baer, a social media speaker, author, consultant and co-author of The NOW Revolution.

During a webinar this week Baer listed the right and wrong questions agencies ask about social media. I’m not going to spoil an entrepreneur’s work by divulging all eight but three may convince you that Baer knows whereof he speaks.

  • What is the best way to get Facebook “likes” and Twitter follows? A better question is, How can we encourage existing fans to take action in social media?
  • How can we create a killer social media campaign that gets noticed? A better question is, How can we develop a sustained, ongoing social strategy that turns customers into advocates over the long run?
  • How can we make a viral video that gets thousands of views? A better question: How can we optimize a video so our customers can find it?

His bottom line when marketing via social media? The advice you live by in all of your business dealings: Strive to be helpful.

Roll over Facebook, here comes Pinterest

Facebook and its IPO might grab the headlines but image-sharing site Pinterest is grabbing viewers.

“According to comScore, Pinterest usage in the U.S. shot up from less than half a million unique visitors in May 2011 to nearly 12 million in January 2012,” eMarketer reported today. That’s a faster rate of adoption than the latest darling of the social media world, Tumblr. U.S. traffic at that blogging site traffic rose from less than 7 million unique visitors in late 2010 to more than twice as many a year later, comScore reported.

According to its website, “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

You just can’t get stock options at this point.

 

 

Piquing your interest with Pinterest

What do you get when you cross Facebook with Flickr? Pinterest, the hot new social networking site that lets users collect and share photos across the Internet.

Mashable, the source of all things digital, describes Pinterest as a “digital pinboard,” a place where users can connect to others through shared tastes and the images that fascinate them. Users create category-based boards and then pin images to them. They can populate those boards by finding media online or uploading their own artwork. The boards are visible to all users, who can repin images on their own boards, “like” those images and follow other users.

So what does an image-based social site look like? Let’s take a look at my boards. I started by collecting images in some of the preset categories such as “Favorite Places & Spaces.” After that I created a few categories like “Design” and populated them with Pinterest user images I thought were worth sharing. Finally, as a bruising cold spell swept across the Northeast, I uploaded a few original photos I’d taken last winter after a snowstorm. (I’m trying to go beyond the share-the-misery idea and find something positive about a foot or more of snow.)

A few hours after the photo went live Cassandra Gouws from Pretoria, South Africa repinned it for one of her collections labeled “Travel.” I’m returning the favor and following that board and one more called “Amazing Photography.”

What impact Pinterest will have on the social and business community is anyone’s guess. Mashable only started covering it last October. And at this point participation is by invitation only. But as of late last year some 30,000 people had downloaded the Pinterest app from iTunes. And Mashable has written a primer on its use.

Participating takes more work than Tweeting and yields a smaller audience than Facebook but the site may appeal to people who prefer visuals to text. And since one of the default categories involves favorite products, Pinterest is positioning itself for companies in the fashion and design industries.

Women lead users of Twitter

Eight percent of adult Internet users say they use Twitter. The greatest percentage of users are college-educated Hispanic women aged 18-29 who live in cities. Those are the results of a first-ever survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that focuses exclusively on users of the microblogging service.

Pew study pie chart how often Tw users ck for materialTwitters users differ on how frequently they check the service to monitor material from their networks. A little more than a third check daily while a comparable number say they rarely check the site.

Most users post a mix of personal and work-related information. A majority say that they post “humorous or philosophical observations.” And if your business is interested in tracking down these users to serve them messages and ads, the study reveals that 24% of respondents use the service to tweet their location, with 7% of them doing so on a daily basis.