Fire PRO

Case studies

High praise for Helen Reynolds FirePRO training

A lot has happened since our last newsletter - one very exciting thing being some virtual training put on and subsidised by FirePRO for our members. We arranged two courses, one led by Helen Reynolds, one led by Dan Slee. Below, Rachael Stray, of Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service, gives her verdict on the Helen Reynolds sessions she attended. 

At a time when our usual education and community engagement work has been dramatically altered due to COVID, social media has been more important than ever for us to be able to communicate key safety messages to the public.

And when we really needed to reach more people our posts were falling flat, our engagement rate was in decline and I was worried.

Thankfully I saw a post in the NFCC workplace Facebook group advertising FirePro social media training with Comms Creative legend Helen Reynolds and I had approval to join.

I was practically giddy.

Having been an avid follower of Helen’s for years, this training sounded exactly what we needed to give us not only the knowledge of social media algorithms and how to try to beat them but also the confidence and creativity to try new things.

I returned to work following maternity leave in May and rather than going back to my desk in Service headquarters I found myself juggling looking after a baby and working at the kitchen table – not exactly the perfect conditions for harnessing creativity.

While working remotely certainly has its perks one of the drawbacks for me is not having those face to face conversations, those moments where you can sound ideas off one another and really get those creative juices flowing.

If anyone is going to give you a creative boost its Helen Reynolds so I put my faith into this training to turn things around.

The FirePro training was a mixture of live workshop style lessons and pre-recorded which worked really well; as I was not able to join every single session live due to bonfire related activity and covering other meetings.

However, I absolutely made the most of it and finally caught up with every session including the bonus ones after the Christmas break.

We covered how social media algorithms work, how to have great ideas, audience segmentation, what content works on each channel, cool apps for creating content, creative writing and Helen shared lots of real world examples of absolutely brilliant social media posts for inspiration.

She really made me think of ways we could shake up our social media content and have the confidence to try new things.

After starting to put the training into practice we have had some fantastic results.

On 1 December we shared a post on Facebook which showed the aftermath of a washing machine fire. We played on the fact that the family wouldn’t be spending Christmas at home and utilised the extra white space, emoji’s and list format that Helen had said would work well.

And it did. This post reached 154,883 people. It was not a boosted or ad post, this was organic traffic. The post had 40,739 engagements, 284 comments, 150 reactions and 699 shares.

Within the comments we actually saw behaviour change at work, in real time. People were tagging friends and family members saying have you seen this, you do this, stop this etc., and we saw lots of people admitting they regularly leave their washing machine/tumble dryer/dishwasher on either when they aren’t at home or overnight but having now realised how dangerous this is, they won’t in the future.

We have started to do serial content and have experimented with creating videos using Lumen5 to bring press releases and papers from meetings to life and the views have been encouraging.

I am now really thinking about our content, what we share and when and making sure that I have fresh images and videos – I am constantly trying to beat the algorithm and it’s actually made me feel more creative and hungry to try new things.

Our posts across all of our platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are continuing to reach more people, our engagement rates are much higher and interaction is on the up too.

I am also regularly explaining to departments why we need fresh content because without the buy in from prevention and education, fire safety, operations and others we won’t have that fresh content that we need to be able to craft those social media posts.

And I am pleased to report it is making a difference. I am getting that buy in, I am receiving videos and images and the performance action group reports are showing that the messages are having an impact on the number of incidents we are attending, so behaviour change is happening.

I am incredibly grateful that this training was provided and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to any communications team to do it.

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