Social Media Pays off for Law Enforcement Recruitment

I first met Captain Greg Guiton of the Ocean City Police department at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention, he had a good idea of what he wanted, and what he needed - a recruitment video for his agency.  Captain Guiton faces unique challenges in his annual search for officers, and he was setting out to create a recruitment model to give him as many tools possible to attract a bigger pool of candidates in a very competitive environment.

Boardwalk Patrol

Located on Maryland’s eastern shore, Ocean City is a resort town in the heart of the state’s lucrative tourist industry. The population balloons in the summer, and so does the size of the city’s police department. Guiton’s task every year is to find seasonal officers to fill the ranks.

The idea of a video was there, but he also knew that a video was just one piece of the overall recruitment campaign to go along with a new web site, and a greater social media presence for his teams marketing effort.

I was at the IACP meeting for a talk on how to effectively use video as part of a recruitment strategy in a world where police departments coast to coast are under a greater microscope. Video production today must be carefully crafted, because social media sharing means your video is out there, everywhere, and not just being viewed by people who want to be cops. Every word, and every image communicates a message about who you are, and how you relate to the community you serve. A well-produced and thoughtful video can become an important multipurpose tool for every law enforcement agency.

Patrolling on horseback

In the case of Ocean City, the family vacation image weighed heavily in the shots we chose, the messaging we developed, and the editing decisions we made in creating the project. The idea of recruiting for a resort community also became a convenient recruitment tool for summer help.  Who wouldn’t want to get paid to spend a summer at the beach, while at the same time starting a law enforcement career with real police experience to put on a resume. Once they make it through an intense training academy, the seasonal officers at Ocean City are on the streets patrolling and answering calls, it’s the real deal.

The “Your Career Starts Here” video series gives Captain Guiton and OCPD multiple tools, for their department web site, and personal appearances. But where OCPD has received the greatest benefits is social media. The video produced stunning results with more than 100,000 video views alone since the series debuted. “Having the videos at our disposal allows us to reach thousands more potential applicants than we ever could before. People are hearing about the seasonal positions we offer for the first time thanks to this new recruiting tool.” said Captain Guiton.

Facebook advertising has been a great payoff.  With a small investment, OCPD has been able to target specific ad placements, and they saw quick results. All this has translated into a larger pool of officer candidates, “Now that we have a video series at our disposal, we are realizing much more innovative recruiting opportunities than we did before,” said Lindsay Richard, Public Relations Affairs Specialist for OCPD, and runs the department social media sites. “Not only are our recruiting teams using the videos during their presentations, but we are also able to reach potential applicants who we can’t physically speak to through social media and web advertising.”

Seasonal officers fill the ranks

New research shows that Captain Guiton’s instincts about video are right on target, and why it is paying off so well. According to a study by Cisco, by 2019 video will represent over 80% of all internet traffic worldwide, and for the US it will be over 85%.  We have come to expect that a web site will contain video.  And you need video, because visitors to a web site stick around for about 10-20 seconds before clicking away, according to the Neilson Norman Group, video is the tool that keeps people from leaving your site. The video also has a major impact on messaging, with Cisco reporting that 90% of users saying that a video is helpful in the decision process.

For OCPD, the investment in a well-designed recruitment video is now a new major recruiting tool, it is providing many benefits, and is a key element their recruitment marketing strategy.

While it will always be important to shake a few hands at a recruitment event, with video, just one click allows you to reach thousands at a time.

Dan Cohen is President of West Street Productions, specializing in award-winning Police and First Responder recruitment video. Contact us for more information.

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