Guest blog series: Face-to-face time – an equally important ingredient as tech is to community engagement
Regardless of the latest tech-communication tool or social app, don’t lose perspective of the fact that it’s all about the citizens in your community. Even if your agency has been “doing” social media and mass communication for years, it never hurts to circle back to your agency’s original communication goals and strategies. Whom were you trying to reach in the first place? Your Citizens. How did you want to leverage them to be your community partners? Through trust. Never lose sight of that in the midst of all the latest tech bells and whistles.
As you reflect on your original goals and strategies, remember to include those who you are already engaging. How did you originally gain their trust? How did you convince them to opt-in to your emergency notification system? Was it through a press release or Facebook, Twitter? Even though we leverage social media to maximize our message’s reach, don’t underestimate the power of your face-to face time. Not everyone uses social media to collaborate with law enforcement and you may be losing a tremendous amount of community stakeholders if you are not willing to get out from behind the desk. Another reality is that time-sensitive public safety alerts often get lost in the feed and missed entirely.
Do You Have a Plan to Improve Community Engagement? Get a plan and get your marketing boots on!
We know we have the “tech”, now it’s time to focus on the content, the personnel, and the trust. Community events are some of the best opportunities to build trust and market your agency’s programs. Coffee with a Cop, National Night Out, a county fair, town hall meetings— these are excellent locations to get that face-to-face time and build trust. But it’s crucial you select the right staff to send to these events. Although your senior SWAT Team member might be the coolest person in the department, they may not be best staff member suited for the job of marketing your agency’s communication programs. This may be a job for Officer Smiley— someone with great communication skills and a soft sell approach. There is no need for hard sell or scare-tactics to drive citizen buy in. All you really need is sincere engagement, trust, and to let your agency’s success stories speak for themselves. Keep track of the missing children cases and solved crimes that resulted from citizen engagement. Convey those success stories to your citizens and be passionate when you talk about the resolutions. Citizens are more likely to trust you and the product when they see measured results and feel your enthusiasm.
Community trust is an established and highly honored relationship between an agency and the citizens it has been entrusted to serve. When you pair citizen trust with a reliable communication tool such as Nixle Community Engagement and Officer face-time, your agency’s communication goals and success stories will be taken to the next level. A community’s trust and confidence in law enforcement has to be nurtured to be sustained. Don’t rely on tech to make that happen. Get out from behind the desk and put your best face-to-face time forward.
In this case study, learn how effective communication by San Angelo PD lead to quick recovery times during emergencies and a safer, more engaged community.