From the committee
Awards successes show fire comms leading the way
If 2017 felt like something of a defining year for the fire sector and its comms teams, it was heartwarming to see fire standing out at so many of the end-of-year awards ceremonies.
The response of fire comms teams to the year's events, as noted in the last issue, was awe-inspiring and rightly earned respect and plaudits from across the comms world.
But it also drew attention to the unparalleled creativity and passion that exists within fire comms teams and some of the incredible pieces of work that have been produced in the last 12-18 months.
Fire picked up four winners at the Comms2Point0 Unwards - fiendishly tricky prizes to win due to the sheer volume of entries for the awards.
There were also four fire winners at the Public Service Communications Excellence Awards, run by the Government Communications Service and LGCommunications, where the fire comms teams were competing with huge organisations such as the Department for Education, Public Health England and the Home Office.
There was also widespread regional recognition in the CIPR's Pride awards, with Avon, South Wales and Hampshire, among others, all receiving nods and nominations.
And even such a sizable clutch of awards only hint at the countless other inspired campaigns, comms and creative being generated across UK fire service teams.
The profile and admiration for fire comms has probably never been higher and FirePRO will be doing all it can to support its members to reach even greater heights. There will be further workshops and the annual conference later this year and we'll continue to preach the gospel of fire comms at a national level.
So get out there and make sure you are shouting about the amazing work you are doing - to colleagues, bosses, the public and peers. People want to hear about it.
James Morton, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and FirePRO Chair
Case studies and interesting reading
Essex challenging stereotypes for wholetime recruitment
When Essex opened wholetime recruitment for the first time in almost nine years we knew it was an opportunity to increase the diversity of our operational workforce, which is 96% male and white, to reflect the communities that we serve.
Working with a local marketing agency we started by looking at the outdated around what a modern day firefighter and often result in unnecessary barriers to stop a more diverse range of people applying.
We soon realised that a big part of the reason females don’t apply is either through lack of confidence, or because they simply see it as a role exclusively for males.
Kicking off at the beginning of the year, we worked with our HR and fitness teams to set up firefighter taster sessions for females. They were so popular we had to open extra sessions and eventually saw over 100 women join us to take part in the fitness tests and find out more about the role.
For our campaign design we based main messages around the idea of mythbusting; using line illustrations that came to life in a video to help the audience to see themselves in the role.
We boldly challenged the idea that firefighting was only for men, as well as misconceptions around fitness levels and the role not being a career and not being suited to working parents.
Our targeted advertising appeared in the social media feeds and online advertising of women interested in fitness and directed them to our dedicated microsite, which gave more details of the role and how to apply: join.essex-fire.gov.uk. This was in addition to the organic posts we used on our social media platforms, where we also encouraged use of the hashtag #JoinEssexFire.
We opened applications at 6.30am on February 19 and within two hours we’d reached our cap of 1200 applicants and closed the portal.
It’s difficult to know the exact number of females that initially applied, due to the system we used and the data it captured. However, our campaign data shows that our targeting was successful in gaining clicks and engagement from females. And as we continue to move through the application stages we’re confident that we’ve recruited the very best applicants, both female and male, for our new wholetime squad who will begin training in June.
Verne Lewis is Marketing Communications Manager at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service
West Yorkshire's emollient campaign gets blanket BBC coverage
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service's (WYFRS) campaign to raise awareness of the fire risk associated with paraffin-based skin products got off to a successful start, with widespread coverage across all BBC channels.
BBC reporter Tracy Gee carried out a number of interviews, which resulted in coverage on BBC Inside Out, BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates, BBC Breakfast, and BBC’s Jeremy Vine Show and across BBC online channels. The story received more than 2.7 million hits on the BBC news channel during the first weekend alone.
The media coverage included the story of a man who sadly died after his dressing gown caught fire whilst smoking. He used paraffin-based products for a leg ulcer. His daughter carried out interviews with Tracy Gee and also on the BBC Breakfast sofa. She was joined by Watch Manager Chris Bell and Watch Manager Jamie Lister in the interviews to highlight the risks and give advice. Chris and Jamie, alongside Claire Tabert from Central Prevention, have been working tirelessly to raise awareness in the medical community to ensure no further tragedies happen.
The fire risk associated with using paraffin-based skin products was also picked up by national newspapers and news sites, featuring in the likes of the Daily Mirror, The Sun, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Sky News and the Daily Mail.
WC Chris Bell is pictured being interviewed on BBC Breakfast and on BBC Look North
As part of the awareness campaign DCFO Dave Walton wrote two letters. The first was to all GP practices across West Yorkshire which was disseminated through the individual clinical commissioning groups. GPs were asked to inform their patients of the potential fire risks when prescribing products, consider reviewing the prescriptions if the patient is smoking and to share information about the dangers with their teams. The second letter was issued to 571 community-based pharmacists within West Yorkshire which asked pharmacists to ensure they have conversations with their customers when dispensing products, note information on patient medication records and share the information with their teams.
The project team are also meeting with members of the National Fire Chief’s Council to discuss ways of raising awareness amongst other fire and rescue services, collating and sharing good practice and resources.The next stage for WYFRS is to introduce an easily accessible dedicated web page on the internet site which acts as a resource library of information, advice and good practice for the public, health and care professional and other fire and rescue services.
Claire Brown, West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue
Oompa Loompa song highlights Get Out Stay Out campaign
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has used a well-known catchy tune to drive home the Get Out Stay Out fire safety message.
The campaign was launched after research showed 41 per cent of residents that suffered an accidental house fire in Staffordshire didn’t leave their home immediately. More concerning was the fact that 52 per cent said they had tried to tackle the fire themselves.
During a brainstorming session SFRS’s Marketing and Communications team used a technique demonstrated by Alive with Ideas at the FirePro conference; using two random words ‘zebra’ and ‘orange’ to generate lots of creative ideas. The winning idea was a catchy Get Out Stay Out song to the tune of the Oompa Loompa song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
An accompanying video telling the tale of a man who has to be rescued by firefighters after he doesn’t heed the Get Out Stay Out advice was filmed and to date has been viewed over 177,000 times. The video featured psychedelic effects which were also used on the campaign artwork on posters, buses and bus shelter adverts.
A number of fire victims supported the campaign by allowing us to tell their stories, two of which were particularly hard-hitting; a man scarred for life after tackling a chip pan fire and a woman who lost her life after going into her smoke filled flat. This was captured on CCTV, which secured over 38,000 views on social media. Her family agreed to release her harrowing last moments in support of the campaign, in the hope it would prevent someone else making the same mistake.
These stories attracted significant local, national and regional media coverage (49 news items). However, it is hoped that the real success and benefit will be realised when the post incident questionnaires are re-evaluated in six and 12 months.
Heather Challinor, Head of Marketing and Communications, said: “The Get Out Stay Out campaign was something we really wanted to get across in a creative way; we needed to catch people’s attention by being different and getting them involved in a story in order to save lives"
Stoat-ally creative campaign catches the eye in Hampshire
When it came to pushing a campaign on smoke alarms in Hampshire, the obvious route to go down was...stoats.
The in-house creative team decided a completely new approach was needed to get the message out and created the eye-catching animation.
The story covers the fictitious plight of the hapless rodent being plucked from its natural environment by people hoping to harness its distinctive cry.
As well as a launch at Hampshire's Staff Conference, the animation was marketed with a Name the Stoat competition on social media - Bernie proving the winning suggestion.
A giant cut-out of Bernie was also taken on tour around the county's schools and Bernie colouring sheets became the must-have Christmas accessory.
The animation has picked up 25,000 views across social channels so far and received a glowing reaction from the public.
How South Yorkshire used Facebook groups to get results
When we set about planning our International Women’s Day (IWD) campaign, one thing we wanted to be mindful of was the recent changes Facebook had made to its algorithms earlier this year. The changes signified a turning point for Facebook, prioritising content from family, friends and groups and ensuring posts from businesses, brands and media were less prominent.
Whilst the exact changes to our news feeds are not yet known, there are certainly ways that we can work with the new algorithm to continue to reach our desired audiences with meaningful content and messages. One of the most effective ways this can be done is through the use of Facebook groups. This means identifying where your target audiences are talking about what you want to talk about and asking to be a part of it.
Our campaign focused on raising awareness of firefighting as a career amongst girls and young women, with the ultimate aim of encouraging more females to consider a job as a firefighter. We knew we had to be really targeted in our approach, as only a small proportion of our audiences following our online channels meet this very specific audience. Our plan was to take our content where we knew the people we were trying to reach spent their time online- which for us included special interest Facebook groups and online forums, such as women’s fitness and parenting groups.
We contacted 14 Facebook pages and groups in total, using our personal accounts, to see if we could generate some support in raising awareness of the campaign. By directly reaching out to the individuals who acted as admin for each group, we were able to introduce ourselves and provide a little bit of background information about the campaign. Not surprisingly, some didn’t reply, but with just under half of those we contacted responding, we were positive we’d built some important relationships in support of the campaign.
Three groups and two pages shared the video using either their own accounts or directly from the page itself. Those that did were also able to provide further detail to others about the campaign as a result of their direct communication with us. These networks helped us to reach more than 1,400 people who exactly matched our target audience.
In the two weeks following the launch, 59 women registered their interest in a career as a firefighter. That’s almost four times the number of registrations received (15) during the two weeks prior to the video launch. It’s also an increase on the number of registrations received during the whole of the month of February (43 registrations). Almost all of those who registered said they had heard about recruitment as a result of the video or our associated activity around it.
As one of the first times we have realistically considered Facebook groups as part of an external campaign, albeit on a relatively small scale, the results have highlighted that this new side to Facebook is one we can’t afford to overlook.
Emma Wright, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.
FirePRO Conference 2018- dates confirmed
Anyone who attended the FirePRO Conference in 2017 will know what a great event it was.
We have already booked the dates for this year’s conference at the Impact Hub, Birmingham - Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 November 2018 - so save the dates in your diaries and dust off your training request forms! Pricing and booking details will be out soon as will an outline of this year’s programme themes.
Feedback from the 2017 event told us that you were happy with the venue and the central location and wanted to keep the mixture of information and discussion about local and national issues, opportunities for networking and case studies from different organisations.
If you would like to contribute to the conference in anyway, or are able to assist with any part of its organisation, please contact James.Morton@hantsfire.gov.uk
FirePRO members' media law whistle stop tour
Twenty plus delegates representing more than a dozen fire and rescue services received free insight from a media law guru, at a FirePRO training event in Sheffield..
The workshop was by leading media law trainer, David Banks – one of the co-writers of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists. It was specifically geared towards media law for comms teams and covered all the legal must knows, from defamation and libel, to privacy and social media.
Events like this rely on the help of our members to help organise them. If you would like to host or help organise a training event for our members, or would like to propose a topic for a future session, please get in touch with one of the committee members.