Shotspotter Blog

PIO Corner:  Webinar Overview

ShotSpotter hosted a live webinar last week where Captain Chris Hsiung from Mountain View Police Department invited his attendees to look at social media from a law enforcement perspective – giving high level insight into how to engage your community to improve relationships, solve crimes and elevate the human element of policing. The content in this webinar was focused on PIOs and individuals responsible for social media or communications.  His engaging and informative content included best practices, tips and case studies allowing attendees to envision their own agency on social media and see how to improve their postings and content in their own community.

Here’s some of the topics and tips that Captain Hsiung reviewed:

Setting the digital media stage

  • Pick 1-2 social media channels that work for you and your content, and your city
  • Know the benefits drawbacks of each social channel
  • Once you pick one, stick with it and do a good job
  • Examples: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Nixle, Pinterest, Nextdoor

Engaging your community can help you solve crimes, protect residents online

  • Don’t just notify your community, engage them to help you solve crimes
  • Give them information and share information, use photos and videos whenever possible
  • Post regularly to update on key things happening in your city, keeping them aware, safer

Social media can help you connect with your community

  • Two-way communication with your community allows them to trust you, engage with you more
  • Provide informative content that shows the human side of policing
  • When your community helps you, credit them publicly on social media

Use Engagement not Notification to Improve Community Relations
Notification is not engagement. Notification gives your community information about an incident, but engagement on a day-to-day basis via social media can help you with community relations. All agencies need to improve in the engagement process.  You can engage your community the same way you do in person with questions, answers and sharing of information.  Imagine a police car with the windows rolled up constantly trying to engage a community. To effectively engage, you need to get out of the police car and actually talk to community residents to engage. Are you currently engaging your community with questions and answers?

Your agency online presence defines your brand
How do people view your agency’s brand online? Your personality online should be one of integrity, professionalism and it should match the values and expectations of your community.  How does the community perceive your agency online? When you get negative comments about the way you are responding to incidents in your community, engage but don’t feed the trolls online.  Focus on the masses. Respond the way you would with your personality. This will help engagement with your community and always take the high road. With negative comments, showcase your professionalism; speak to the audience, not just the person. Consult legal counsel on takedown policies and if you’re ever not sure how to post or what to post, ask someone in your agency.  Make sure to also handle sensitive matters with care when posting. For example, a tragic accident or passing of a neighboring city agency’s officer should always be announced by a city’s agency. Do not post or announce news from another community on your agency’s social media channel — always wait until another agency has formally announced information before you comment on an incident.

When Posting – Make it interesting
Remember that there is a human element to policing and there are many sides of policing. Make sure to show your community the human side of your work.  You can look at your posts and see if they are compelling and be sure to post photos. You can inform your community on events and incidents, yet keep in mind that you don’t have to give up operational security to do this, just make sure to engage them on what’s going on. Use your personality when you answer community questions. Don’t be boring! For example, when you post from your agency, show examples of how you are engaging with your community. Mountain View Police Department recently posted photos of officers at a lemonade stand, engaging with a local neighborhood. The response was overwhelmingly positive from residents who felt gratitude that their city officers were involved in a small local community event, this showed they cared. Studies show that not all posts are read, so you need to make sure you post regularly and make it interesting. It’s ok to make things look fun and informative.  Remember: your content has no value unless it’s shared or acted upon.

If you didn’t get a chance to view this engaging and content-rich webinar, please view the archive on our ShotSpotter PIO Toolkit page. The PIO Toolkit also includes tips, templates and best practices documents designed for a PIO. 
Webinar Archive: How the Mountain View Police Department Successfully Uses Social Media to Improve Community Engagement, Manage Crisis Communications and Solve Crimes

January 22, 2016
By: Sherry Prescott-Willis, Director of Marketing