A successful department is a finely tuned machine. With how fast news spreads these days especially bad. It’s essential to keep your department running smoothly, and in good light, with the community, it is crucial to avoid making mistakes.
Here are the 7 most common mistakes to avoid:
1. Not having clear objectives: Many agencies start a Public Information campaign without clear objectives. They fail to set realistic goals for their marketing and consequently set themselves up for failure. It is essential to make a list of goals and objectives based on a quarterly timeline. If you do not have agency goals and objectives, you are like a car driving without a road map. Make sure all employees are briefed on company objectives. When your employees are not adequately prepared, you will not be able to achieve company objectives.
2. Neglecting to analyze your potential audience is a dangerous mistake. It can lead to many problems. When you do not investigate, your audience wants and needs, you do not know what services & information to develop for them. This will lead to targeting the wrong people and neglecting to understand your community. It is crucial for any agency to do their marketing analysis so that you can target your market and maximize your community engagement.
3. Not testing: By not testing your copy and places you advertise with split testing your advertising, you will be losing reach. Split testing is simple to do, but many departments fail to do this. This results in a lot of wasted time and effort. If you do not test your ad copy and promotions, you will not have a proper idea of the ads and promotions that are pulling and what is not working. It is simple to do by placing two ads for the same information in a publication or website etc. You can then see which one is performing the best.
4. Not budgeting: Budgeting is critical in the department. Your department should never run out of money. This is especially true with your marketing and advertising ventures. It is vital to have a monthly or quarterly budget for your campaigns. Within that budget put aside money for each promotion you will be doing. Start small, test, and then build on successes. This will allow you always to stay solvent and have enough for promotions.
5. Giving up too soon: departments crash and burn at an alarming rate these days. One of the reasons is that they give up too soon. When success might be just around the corner, they give up and decide to shut down public information’s campaign. In the same fashion, marketing promotions can fail. It would help if you gave your promotions at least three months before you decide to scrap them. Some promotions will take longer than others to bring results. As always, test all tactics before you launch a more extensive promotion. Patience is one of the hallmarks of the department, and you need to implement it.
6. Poor copy: Poor unprofessional articles and press copy will cost you in engagement. In fact, without a well-written copy, you will not be able to engage effectively at all. It is critical to your department to get this right. If necessary, get an experienced copywriter to do this. It is worth the investment, as you will see engagement when you make the press.
7. Not screening your employees carefully: To handle the extra load for the Fire season you will need to hire new responders. It is imperative not to rush into this. There is no dearth of people needing employment, but you need to screen them carefully before hiring. One bad fire/ems can cost you a ton of bad press. Do not take this type of risk. You want to preserve the integrity of your department at all times, and screening new hires is the way to achieve this. You will then be able to build a core of loyal professional employees that will be an asset to the department.
The golden rule is to diversify. You should always use multiple forms of marketing promotions and public information in your agency. Do not just do one or two Press releases and then wait for results. This will slow department community engagement, and your agency will stagnate.
By avoiding these mistakes, you will take your department to the success it deserves. You will be able to have year-round success for your department. So plan and be careful not to make these common mistakes. If you are a smaller agency without a full-time PIO, then you should look into hiring Influence Media Solutions. They are a Marketing, Web & Public Relations firm with offices in West Palm Beach, Florida and Fort Collins, Colorado. They also have over 20 years of active firefighting services and have a wealth of knowledge in public safety.
Mark Lamplugh is a fourth-generation firefighter and former captain with the Lower Chichester (PA) Fire Company. Mark is President of the board for the Institute for Responder Wellness. Mark owns Influence Media Solutions which is his own Marketing, Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Branding, Business Development and Social Media company. He advises companies such Lionrock Recovery about first responder programs.. He just published his first book “Beginners Guide to Digital & Social Media” which is available on Amazon. Mark is a professional advocate for the behavioral and mental health of firefighters and other first responders. He’s been involved in the creation of several responder specific treatment programs and is one of the leading experts in bringing these programs to responders. Lamplugh hosts his own talk show called "Firefighter Wellness Radio". He has published dozens of articles on responder wellness topics and is recognized by the American Acadamy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. He has helped hundreds of responders with getting help for behavioral & mental health issues. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org
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