The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership

The CopDoc Podcast Ep 63, Joanne Sweeney, Digital Marketing, Social Media in Public Sector

March 14, 2022 Joanne Sweeney Season 3 Episode 63
The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership
The CopDoc Podcast Ep 63, Joanne Sweeney, Digital Marketing, Social Media in Public Sector
Transcript


[00:00:02.630] - Outro

Welcome to The CopDoc Podcast. This podcast explores police leadership issues and innovative ideas. The CopDoc shares thoughts and ideas as he talks with leaders in policing communities, academia, and other government agencies. And now please join Dr. Steve Morreale and industry thought leaders as they share their insights and experience on The CopDoc Podcast.

 


[00:00:33.130] - Steve Morreale

Well, hello, everybody. Steve Morreale from Boston. Good morning. This is The CopDoc Podcast and we are headed on the other side of the pond to Galway, Ireland. We have Joanne Sweeney. Good afternoon, Joanne.

 


[00:00:45.280] - Joanne Sweeney

Good afternoon. And thank you so much for having me.

 


[00:00:47.260] - Steve Morreale

I'm so happy to talk to you when we got the chance to talk a little bit earlier. But Joanne is the Public Sector Marketing Institute. She runs that, and she is all about social media in the public sector. And it came to my attention from somebody actually in The Guard to say, you really got to reach out for her. And we talked. And the next thing I knew, I had a new guest. So tell the audience about yourself. How did you get involved in it? Why were you so keen? Why are you so keen with the role and the value of social media in the public sector?

 


[00:01:15.520] - Joanne Sweeney

It really is an unusual niche. Right? And I'm totally obsessed and passionate about it. But I think it really goes back to my days as a very young journalist in my home county of Donegal in Northwest Ireland. And at the time that I graduated, there was a major national and even international story breaking. And that was a public inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing by some members of An Garda Siochana in County Donegal. So as a hungry and ambitious young journalist, I wanted to cover the tribunal. And so they came to County Duncan from Dublin for two months. And I convinced my boss to let me drive an hour and a half each day to go uncovered. And I sat there for two whole months. And very often I was the only journalist there as a local journalist on the ground and understanding the nuances of policing locally, I was fascinated, and I was hooked at that stage. And then a little while later, I got to cover the Savvy Inquiry in Derry. And that was a public inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday. That actually happened 50 years ago this year, but 30 years ago when I was covering as a journalist.

 

 

 


[00:02:20.170] - Joanne Sweeney

So I became very invested in the work of law enforcement. And Interestingly, none of my family members ever were members of The Guardian. And so it was just something that I decided to take on. And then I did a Masters in journalism while I was still working. And I wrote about the impact of the Morris tribunal on the county of Donegal and on the police work.

 


[00:02:39.350] - Steve Morreale

But those are all negative things, Joanne, you're talking about. I love covering the Gardi, but all of the things you're saying were the police or the tribunals or the oversight organizations in Ireland taking a look at those who were corrupt or doing inappropriate stuff, how did that translate into now I want to help the public sector, and I understand you don't just work with police, but the public sector in sending their message out by using social media in a better way.

 


[00:03:06.930] - Joanne Sweeney

So fast forward about eight years, and I was conducting my second bit of research for a master's degree in digital marketing. And I would have to pitch the idea to my lecturer. And I said, I want to investigate how An Garda Siochana use social media for crime prevention, community engagement and crime investigation. And they said, well, that's a wonderful idea, Joanne, but best of luck with that. I'm not sure it will happen. But I made my pitch to Garda HQ in Phoenix Park in Dublin and explained what I believe was the very importance of doing this first ever primary research. And they agreed. And so I guess my work as a journalist, I also then worked in broader communications. And I made an intention and a promise to myself that I was going to be at the cutting edge of communication. So no matter how much my industry changed, I would be at the forefront. But I still couldn't get rid of that just interest in law enforcement and policing and then more broadly public sector. And so the Masters became a reality. And then six months later, I published my first book, Social Media Under Investigation, Law Enforcement and the Social Web.

 


[00:04:16.130] - Joanne Sweeney

And that became a global insight into how police forces are using social media.

 


[00:04:20.790] - Steve Morreale

All right, so, Joanne, you know how closed law enforcement is, and you're a journalist, so you've got a double edged sword going against you to say, we are not going to let you in here, but obviously you convince some people to say, let me take a look. Even though you were writing not necessarily against the guard, but against those who were acting inappropriately as Gardi. And so were you surprised at the access you were granted?

 

 

 


[00:04:45.520] - Joanne Sweeney

I was and I wasn't. I definitely understood the intricacies of getting access and the level of trust that was required. But I had been working as a consultant, as a media consultant, and I still am actually for the association of Guard Sergeants and Inspectors. So the representative body of the middle to senior ranking Guardian in Ireland. And so they knew me and also they knew of my work. So I would write a lot, podcast, a lot, communicate. I'm very transparent in my own work. And so I felt that they trusted me, but I knew the responsibility on my shoulders to not break that trust.

 


[00:05:21.860] - Steve Morreale

So going back to its social media. And it's interesting because I've seen some of your work, the state of social media. And I think what the audience needs to understand is that you have broadened well beyond the aisle. And so you've done work with the United States, you've done it in Australia. Tell me where else you're looking and how that work translates both to business, but more importantly, helping to change the approach that police will take to use it as a medium, as a communications vehicle.

 


[00:05:50.470] - Joanne Sweeney

So I'm very clear when I get challenged by policing or more broadly, government or public sector on the value of social media that I have to provide evidence. And I have this line which is, do not bring an opinion to a data party. So I use that also when people are kind of pushing back to me with their opinions about the role of social media, I think evidence and practice is very, very important. So I am a practitioner of everything that I teach. I'm also an academic and a researcher. And so I can bring both of those disciplines to bear. And one gap that I identified in all of this conversation is that there is no benchmark that exists for what success looks like on social media from a policing or a government or a public sector standpoint. You'll always get benchmarks around social media generally, but by and large, that will focus on the private sector. And we have to be very clear that there is a huge distinction between social media for the private sector and the commercial versus social media for the public sector. And that really lies in the fact that when we are engaging in social media or policing or public sector, the conversion and the real success metric is public trust and public engagement and not a sale of a product or a service.

 


[00:07:10.250] - Joanne Sweeney

So I decided to launch the state of social media report, as you correctly said, Ireland, Australia and the US. And what that does is it takes a large sample. So the Irish sample is 500 government agencies, the Australian sample is 1200 government agencies, and the US sample, I think is around 1700. Yeah. And so what that allows me to do is it allows me to do quite large samples and have a look at quantitative data and have a look at average engagement rates on social and then put that out there as benchmarks for success. I do a little bit of qualitative and have a look at content. What kind of content and content formats work. And so I think then that has opened me to new markets and what it also does, actually, I had somebody from the city of Phoenix actually reach out last week said, hey, I've got a presentation to make next week. Can you help me? And I said, yeah, you have this report. It's absolutely free. And he was delighted. And so I'm really creating AIDS for communicators to influence inside their organizations on the importance of social media because there are now more people in the world using social media than aren't.

 


[00:08:17.510] - Joanne Sweeney

So it's a fundamental way in which we communicate.

 


[00:08:19.710] - Steve Morreale

So we're talking to Joanne Sweeney. And she is the guru from Public Sector Marketing Institute and has her own podcast. We're talking to her today in Galway, Ireland. And I appreciate that. One of the things that strikes me, Joanne, is that so many people make an attempt. I think the difference is, as you know, especially in the United States, in Canada, there are so many different separate organizations, police organizations, as opposed to what's going on in Ireland where you have a singular agency. So people start to maybe put their toe in the water to start a Facebook or an Instagram or a LinkedIn page. But the problem I see at times is that there's no staying power. So you start it and then you don't keep it up. And I know that young people, my own kids when they're looking and even me when I'm looking to check you out, in other words, to vet you or vice versa. I want to know what your footprint is and whether you're attentive to keeping me apprised, even businesses. If I can't find something with a business, then I shut it off and find somebody that's going to tell me about them so that I can go and vet them and check them.

 


[00:09:24.110] - Steve Morreale

But the problem is when you don't keep it up, it's almost worse than not having a footprint. But who should keep this up? When you say, okay, start this, you've got me thinking about so many things. I saw some of your reports saying YouTube being the most used media outlet. Talk about what those are and what you have found. What's the most used social media outlet?

 


[00:09:46.890] - Joanne Sweeney

So the most used social media outlets within law enforcement, government and public sector agencies are Facebook and Twitter, where they start. Mostly they start on Twitter or even LinkedIn. And why? Because there's a certain level of comfort on those channels, because they're corporate channels and because all agencies have PR and media teams. And they're used to issuing press releases, writing speeches during press conference and speaking with the corporate voice. They tend to navigate to Twitter and LinkedIn. Other agencies realize that Facebook is the public facing social network. So if you want to engage with your citizens on the ground, in the community, in the jurisdiction where you have responsibility, then you need to be on Facebook. So then we have Facebook coming up. People probably don't realize that YouTube is the world's second largest search engine and one of the top social networks. So as we know, it's a video networking and video streaming site. But YouTube is owned by Google and Google is the biggest search engine in the Western world. And then YouTube is the world's second biggest search engine. And so if we think about search that Google and YouTube is dominating, and that's where people are consuming video and they're going to their Google search and they're inputting questions there.

 


[00:11:07.480] - Joanne Sweeney

And so while Meta that owns Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp. And messenger is dominating in the social sphere, then you actually have TikTok coming along and winning market share of Meta. And in fact, only a couple of weeks ago in their latest reports, Meta's market share fell, such as the growth of Tik Tok. So all of these channels have different objectives and different audiences. But the agility of these government agencies to be on all of them. And I love what you said earlier, the staying power, the staying power isn't there because guess what? There is complete overwhelm. And what I'm also finding is that social media as a task, as an output is now being layered upon comms professionals work that might not have been in your original job spec. But guess what? Now it's important. And can you do Twitter as well on Facebook? Just it won't take you long. Can you do it? And so the strategic approach to social media is lacking. And that's why you don't have to stay in power.

 


[00:12:08.180] - Steve Morreale

Well, I can't pretend to know everything and certainly it is not anywhere near my specialty. And as I started to look at starting this podcast, you say, okay, how my daughter actually has a Masters like you in digital marketing, the new media, social media. But I want to ask this because it seems to me, first of all, policing organizations do a pretty horrible job of marketing or branding themselves. And that's troubling. And yet they can control the message if they hire somebody. I think the mistake they make this is my own opinion. The mistake they make is you take somebody and you say to an officer here, you're responsible for that instead of finding somebody potentially who is younger, who has a specialization of digital media and new media to say you are going to be responsible for the upkeep here and for interviewing people and for looking for stories and putting our message out. Talk about what your recommendations are for people who come to you like this Phoenix officer to say, we need some help.

 


[00:13:08.670] - Joanne Sweeney

Yeah. And so honestly, that was Eric. And then there was another lady for New Jersey about a month ago and she said, Joan, I have been searching for content that speaks to my work for a full year. And I finally found you. And I'm like, great. And her single question to me was, is the content, the research and your books, everything that you produce, is it relevant to the United States? Because I know that you're in Ireland, you work in Europe, you're close to the UK. And I said, absolutely. This is the beauty of the work that I do. It translates to every single nation. Because guess what? Policing and in the public service is simply about that. It doesn't matter what legislation binds it all together, but it's all about human connection through the medium of social, through the platform that is your smartphone. And so when people are coming to me what I will say to them is I have created accredited programs like courses in social media for government and public sector, digital marketing for government and public sector, crisis communications for government and public sector. And one of the reviews that I got on the book was from a Facebook executive in the Middle East.

 


[00:14:14.530] - Joanne Sweeney

And he said, oh, my goodness. And I'll send you the link to that book review because he wrote it on LinkedIn and tagged me. And that's how I found it. And he said the language in this book is actually remarkable. It is a book about marketing government agencies. But the language isn't marketing based. It's more about connection and connectivity and community. And I said, yes, Facebook, and you could do with changing your language too. But they really enjoyed it. And then that led me to speaking at Facebook's first ever government Digital Transformation Summit at the end of the year. So I think that and even us having this conversation today, it's really magnifying the importance that social media plays in the world, whether it's politics, policing, public service, because there are bad actors there. And you know this, Steve, and they can disrupt narratives and are responsible for the spread of fake news. And so I feel really strongly that the Eric and the John's of this world need to be skilled in social communication because if they're not, there's a whole vacuum and who steps into a vacuum, isn't that true?

 


[00:15:19.000] - Steve Morreale

So I'm going to talk about age differences and how the younger group of people are getting their news and getting their information. You just said smartphone. I mean, the smartphone that we now have is so smart, sometimes smarter than me and can outsmart me, but this is how they get their news. Young people, I'm holding up my phone, even though this is audio. Before we get to that, when you say public sector, what other organizations do you see as having a need to have a footprint in social media Besides policing?

 


[00:15:53.380] - Joanne Sweeney

Yeah. So I talked about national government, local government, all of those semi state agencies that are funded by governments, nonprofits and charities. The University of San Francisco actually has my public sector marketing pro on their curriculum on the course, nonprofit marketing. So once it's non commercial and in the public interest, that's kind of my catch up.

 


[00:16:13.480] - Steve Morreale

That's interesting. So you put your Periscope up a while ago and now you're getting more than traction. I suppose it might surprise you, but I believe that you were using social media to your advantage the same way as you were suggesting other people use it. What was your marketing plan as you push this out?

 


[00:16:31.000] - Joanne Sweeney

I will tell you all my secrets because I love practicing so that I can tell the story of the evidence. It went back to when I was doing my master’s and I was Googling law enforcement and social media and trying to get other academics that I could quote in my academic research because isn't that what you're meant to do? You can't just give your opinion and academic writing. And there was nothing. And a light bulb went on in my head and I went, oh, my goodness me, I could really own this space. And then when I launched the book, then I was tweeting about the book, and it led me to keynote at a chief of police conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

 


[00:17:08.960] - Steve Morreale

Wow, you got around, huh, you get around?

 


[00:17:11.770] - Joanne Sweeney

And that brought me into a room full of Chiefs of police from across the United States and Canada. And I carried like 33 books in my bag that I would get with the luggage with our Lingus and the FBI were there. And this is a lovely story. He said, Joanne, it's fascinating how you talk about social media. And he goes, Obviously, we use it for crime investigation. They're really useful tool. He goes, but we need to promote ourselves a little bit more. And how can we do that? And I said, we'll certainly do it. And they took a couple of copies of the book. And so, yeah, I'm very intentional in my marketing and the names of my book, the names of my podcast and collaborating with folk like you who have similar audiences and just having conversations and talking to people. So, like, I open my diary for 2 hours every day in 30 minutes slots, and I invite people to come and have a conversation with me about Digital.com social media and their role. I call it a career guidance call, and I offer them for free. So people come in from all around the world and we have a conversation.

 


[00:18:10.150] - Joanne Sweeney

They're like, this is unusual. And I said, no, it's not. I'm advocating and preaching at the same time. And when you have new information, you'll go back into your organization and you'll be the champion there. And you'll have new knowledge because these guys are fighting a bit of a battle here with their senior leadership. They're not getting investment in terms of monetary terms. They're just expected to do it. They're not getting investment in terms of their skill sets. And maybe the realization hasn't set off the power of social in not only public relations, but that crime investigation piece. And so maybe they don't have the language and I can help them with that. And I send them off with encouragement and enthusiasm.

 


[00:18:46.400] - Steve Morreale

Yeah, but the Irish in you makes this happen. It's my experience that you're loving, caring people who want to help, who want to nurture relationships. And I think that that's one of the reasons. And that's pretty special. So let's talk about how people find you. Let's talk about your podcast. And how do they find that? Start with that.

 


[00:19:07.300] - Joanne Sweeney

Yes. This is my second podcast. The Public Sector Marketing Show does what it says on the Tin, as they say. And that's actually a year old. This week, we're celebrating our first birthday.

 


[00:19:19.060] - Steve Morreale

Happy birthday.

 


[00:19:20.030] - Joanne Sweeney

Thank you. What I do is every week I have an interview with somebody who is working in government or public sector, and they share their insights. And all of that is framed around one single kind of hook. So, for example, our recent show was on how you can leverage social media for getting a promotion. And so what I will do is I will do a column like a solo radio column. I used to work in radio, so I'll do a radio column and I'll tee up the subject. Then I have my consulting segment where I give practical advice, free consulting, and then we go in with the interview. That's actually the case study. And so it's about a 30, 40 minutes show, depending on what we're covering. And we broadcast that on YouTube and Facebook on a Wednesday, and then on Thursday it comes out on the podcast platform. And we also turn it into a blog post. And so that allows me to have those conversations that I spoke to you about and to broaden the net. And what I'm doing is I'm going to all of these organizations asking the questions, but it's helping all of my listeners.

 


[00:20:22.310] - Joanne Sweeney

And then my listeners are sharing the podcast episodes with their senior leaders. But hey, these guys are doing this in this police force. Maybe we could do it too, because, you know, everybody wants to know what their peers are doing. And if their peers are doing it, then we should do it too, right?

 


[00:20:35.760] - Steve Morreale

It's almost an instant vetting. Well, if they're doing it, I want to do it. I don't want to be in the dust. So that's pretty darn interesting. And obviously, you may be doing some of this for free, but also you are consulting and you're providing an audit to some people. I think what you said a minute ago is very interesting. I think there is a generational gap. And I think you would agree with that, that the old timers are not used to Facebook and LinkedIn. And they say this is crazy, it's misinformation, and I'm not interested. I want to hide. I don't want to put my stuff out there. And I think that's old-fashioned thinking. I want to talk to you about the question I posed a few minutes ago, but I diverted from that. And that is the different generations and their use and understanding and acceptance and reliance over reliance on social media talk about that. So we can better understand that.

 

 

 


[00:21:21.830] - Joanne Sweeney

That's a great question. And give me a new idea for a podcast episode. And it's so true, because if you think about it, the decision makers and organizations are those that command the budget and drive strategy. And if they don't understand social media, then they can't manage it. And honestly, fear is a big thing. You don't want to manage something that you don't understand because you might be exposed as being irrelevant. And missing that in the first place is a very vulnerable thing to do. So what I see is a lot of personal bias being brought into the boardrooms. And my kind of opening kind of call card into these sort of environments is I ask everybody to leave their personal bias about social media at the door and come in here with an open mind. And I will educate you that's that one piece. The average age of people taking our courses now is 45.

 


[00:22:11.950] - Steve Morreale

Well, there's a data point for you.

 


[00:22:14.190] - Joanne Sweeney

Yeah. They are middle managers. They probably have about 20 years on average, service within government and public sector, and they are committing to Upskilling. And I always say another call card I have for them is you have 90% of what you need right now. Your skills are not irrelevant. That intuitiveness that you've built up over two decades. That is not irrelevant. What you need is the 10% that I will give you is that digital skill set. And then they kind of relax, and then they open their mind and I demystify. It like my joy in breaking things down really simply. We don't worry about the tech. We don't worry about the language that is all taught. I make it really simple. The other thing then that you have is new hires, right? New hires coming in, seeing maybe a paper-based organization. You're not given a smartphone for your work, but yet you're meant to use social media on the job. You want me to post on Instagram via a desktop? Are you serious?

 


[00:23:11.180] - Steve Morreale

Come back to the office. Come back, everybody back to the office to post. I know that's. A crazy mindset. Go ahead.

 


[00:23:18.700] - Joanne Sweeney

There's another piece of research that I want to quote, and I definitely recommend your listeners go and check it out. It's called the Digital News Report, and it's conducted annually. And actually 2021 was the 10th year of it. It's a joint collaboration between Reuters Institute and also the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. And they do this across 80 countries, 60,000 respondents. And every country does their own local analysis, and they bring it together, and that study will blow your mind. So some of the big takeaways for me last year was one of the questions was how are young people accessing news? So it's now clear that they're accessing news, as in mainstream news on social media. So that really probably wasn't a surprise. The next question, if you're 35 or under, when you're accessing social media for news, who do you listen to most? Guess what was number one, averaging about 37% internet personalities. And then we wonder why we have a problem with our democracy. Internet personalities are individuals who are building up a massive following based on a topic that they're interested in and that they post consistently about. And journalists are lower, and then government organizations or brands are even lower again.

 


[00:24:36.020] - Joanne Sweeney

And so that is just for me, evidence of the lack of the public voice on social. Like, if an agency came to me and said, Joanne, we need to run this campaign on mental health, but our share of social voice is about 20%, and then we have influencers or other people who are holding share of social voice 80%, I can reengineer a plan and get them to rise to the top of social because social media will do the legwork if you put in the strategy and execute.

 


[00:25:02.290] - Steve Morreale

But you have to offer the content, too. You have to have something to give, right?

 


[00:25:05.740] - Joanne Sweeney

Yeah. The content is like the fuel that sets the whole virality alike. You need that. And so, yeah, you're absolutely right. The generational differences, people at different stages in their career, digital natives versus digital Nomads. And then everybody else in between. And we need some alignment. Good shout out there.

 


[00:25:23.500] - Steve Morreale

That's good. We also talked about digital natives, and I want to talk about that because I think that's really important. I think when you're talking to people, this is such a facet for me. I'm an old fart.

 


[00:25:33.850] - Joanne Sweeney

You're tuned in Steve,  I can tell.

 


[00:25:35.190] - Steve Morreale

The students keep me, experiences keep me grounded, I think. But there are times when we're in the classroom and I'll say, how do you do this? Kids have no question, just do this and this and it's done. And I feel dumb, but that's how I learn. Okay, guys, I don't know everything. And that's the first thing I say. I'm Dr. Morreale, but I got to tell you, I don't know everything. I want to talk a little bit about that. In other words, if you don't feel comfortable, find exactly that new hire that comes in that has a different perspective on social media and use it to your advantage. So we're talking with Joanne Sweeney. She's in Galway, Ireland, today, and she runs the Public Sector Marketing Institute. And we've been having a very broad conversation about social media and how it can be of great value to a police agencies except generationally. There is a reticence or reluctance and maybe a fear that you just talked about social media. You've got digital natives that we just talked about. Talk about the value of digital natives in an organization. And maybe that's where the organization needs to point to, to get some help to create a footing with social media.

 


[00:26:34.830] - Joanne Sweeney

Well, first of all, they come with no fear because they grew up essentially with smartphones in their hands and how they consume media and how they communicate with family and friends. And even if how they communicate at school and learn is now predominantly in a digital first world, they will also bring the perspective of government and law enforcement agencies being relevant to the youth because we cannot, as McKinsey says, have a monopolistic mindset where government agencies dictate how they communicate with the public just because it suits them. We have to have a 360 on this and say, well, actually, how do our audiences want to communicate? So having digital natives in your organization will help shape, workflows, develop and increase output in terms of digital communications and digital content, but also even influence an add perspective to how to engage young people. And that's not to say, Steve, that I would actually give a junior the reins of the social media channels just because they're 21. They need to be versed in PR and media and nuances of public policy, politics, public opinion, all of that. But I definitely think they can add massive value and should not be overlooked because of the lack of general experience.

 


[00:27:49.050] - Steve Morreale

So it seems to me that those who are interested, maybe they have a small social media. I keep using the word footprint, that it's time to kind of step it up a little bit so that you can help to send your message. But I will say that there are a number of people who I'm familiar with, especially high-ranking Chiefs, that are afraid of the cancel culture. And you know, darn right. Well, and it's probably happened to you. You make a post on Facebook or on LinkedIn and there's somebody is saying negative stuff, look what this officer did. He jumped in and he saved somebody. Yeah, but 25 others are beating the crap out of somebody. And it's always that negativity. And that fear pushes people away from social media. You're shaking your head violently so the audience can't see you. So what's your reaction to that?

 


[00:28:35.570] - Joanne Sweeney

Yeah, cancel culture is alive and well, and cancel culture is perhaps a symptom of a changing world. So the role of Church, state and big business has changed. They used to control the world, those big organizations and authoritarians. With the smartphone and the free availability of WiFi and the democratization of the Internet, we now have a public that has a voice. And whether you want to hear them or not, they will be heard. And so when you are reluctant to step up onto the world of social because of cancel culture, this is where your strategy needs to come into. You need to plan for the inevitable criticism that you will get. You need to bought aside. In parallel with that, you need to build a strategy that is based on trust and transparency being the win from social media. Many police forces and I always use them in the United States. Ahead of the curve, have monthly live streams on Facebook. Ask the chief right where the chief will come on. Answer questions that are created from social media and answer them publicly. Live streaming press conferences now, not just journalists, get to go to a Press conference the public can watch.

 


[00:29:46.430] - Joanne Sweeney

If you get it wrong, say sorry, don't lock down your tweets. Don't turn off tweets. Allow people to engage. As the wonderful police chief, Christian from Mountain View Police says, jump into the comment section in Facebook and don't be afraid of them. But that will come with your strategy and an advice and an informed plan. It's like, I'm not an officer. Do you think I could go and deal with an emergency incident if somebody asked me to tag along? No, I couldn't because I'm not trained and I don't know the plan. And these guys, they do emergency and crisis every single day of the week. They deal with people and I think it's taking the worst case scenario and they keep it front and center of their brain and go, we can't go in. Whereas I say it's inevitable that a crisis is going to happen, but why don't we just charge out those potential crisis? And that's one chapter in the book and it's called crisis probability metric. You know what probable crisis are going to happen and how would we deal with it in a digital world? Because digital isn't going anywhere.

 


[00:30:41.670] - Steve Morreale

It's growing. Yeah. It's interesting what you just said, because when you look at it, we are all consumers of social media, including those old time Chiefs. Right. You're going to have to have your head in the sand if you're not watching. Look, when I teach research with students, they get afraid of that term research. I'll say to them, you do research every day. You're constantly trying to figure out what place to go to for vacation, what airline to take, what place to eat. And you're looking at people's ratings. They're not curated, as you say, but you're looking at stars and you're looking at negative stuff. And so I'm thinking as you were talking, whether it's Twitter, where I'm not happy with a flight that I took or the way I was treated by something, and I'll go out and I'll put a little blurb out there, knowing that it will get the attention and instantly what the company will do is thank you. We're so sorry that you've had that bad situation. We'd ask you to DM us so that we can get in touch with you to resolve the situation. That's it in many cases, it quells the issue because all I want to be is heard.

 


[00:31:41.130] - Steve Morreale

And let's now take that to policing, where the chief or somebody is saying, we're sorry you had that. This is not what we tried to do and this is not how we try to be, how our officers try to behave. Please get with so and so or DM us. If you do that, it can stop that negativity. If you don't, it just festers. So what do you think?

 


[00:32:00.290] - Joanne Sweeney

Yeah, I call it FNCs. So it's like the opposite of FAQs frequent asked questions. FNC stands for frequent nasty comments. And so we have the data. And if there's a trend with the frequent, nasty comments, then clearly there's a gap in your communication somewhere that you need to fill. And you say, thank you, public, for highlighting it to us. And so not everybody is out to get us. They're there to, as you said, to be here. There's an excellent piece of research done by a Canadian, Tony Reno. You should have them on your show. I've had him on mine and he was published in the McMasters Journal Communication, and his research was on Negativity online. And so what his research found and he used to work in the oil and gas trade. Right. So again, not a very favorable industry by and large, in the main, 1% of your noisiest critics is just it it's 1%, but they are getting all of your attention. And then on the back of that, it's influencing your strategy and your decision making. What about the 99%? You are kind of okay with what you're doing, but maybe would like more food communications.

 


[00:33:06.620] - Joanne Sweeney

And so that's a quite dangerous place to be, if I think about it, are my leaders in government and are my policymakers making decisions based on the one person who might have a disingenuous motive. So I think we need to be kind of really clear. And he says jump into the Negativity and assess. Is it an unheard citizen? Did they have a question that you didn't respond to the poor customer service? Is it a legitimate query, an opposing view which we're entitled to, or is it a troll with somebody with other aims that are not in the public interest? And if we actually took time to deal and look into the Negativity, then maybe we would have more answers.

 


[00:33:43.360] - Steve Morreale

It's your opportunity to clarify something, I think in a lot of ways. So if somebody is listening and obviously we'll find you at Public Sector Marketing Institute, what's the starting point for a police agency that does not have a robust social media? What would you say?

 


[00:34:00.540] - Joanne Sweeney

They need a social media strategy. They need a plan that will quell all of the nervous anticipation. It will give structure to content and output. It will look at roles and responsibilities. It will look at governance and oversight. It will look at audiences and prioritizing channels. It will look at resourcing, it will look at community management and that crisis management and everything will be laid down. And then you can go in and phases like Q one of the year we'll do this, we'll build out in Q two and there are agencies that are active on social but still don't have a plan. And sometimes it's only when something goes wrong that somebody asked the question and we don't have a policy for that or who made that decision. So it's a really important asset. These are assets of organizations that need to be viewed as such and their core communications channels. So yes, I would say start with a plan.

 


[00:34:51.630] - Steve Morreale

So top three starting points for a police Department that says it's time, we're way behind.

 


[00:34:57.650] - Joanne Sweeney

Yeah. The number one - commit to a plan, even a twelve-month plan is long enough. Twelve months social change is so fast that if you have a twelve-month plan, then you can iterate and review after one year. I would say pilot, pilot and test is really important on social 90 days, trying something out, whether it's expanding an existing channel or whether it is launching a new channel. 90 days of data is wonderful because you actually see proper trends as opposed to seven or 28 days. And then number three, think about content and be a little bit adventurous or creative with your content. Because let's face it, right now, posting a static image and just text is not going to cut it. We're light years ahead of that. Now we're looking at reels on Instagram, TikTok videos, going live on Faces, on Twitter, Twitter audio, and then over on LinkedIn. You can have some cast and multiple live streams. So commit, but again, commit to being a little bit more adventurous with the content. But the other thing I would say is all of this is in a controlled environment. All of this like I work with policing agencies every day of the week.

 


[00:35:58.240] - Joanne Sweeney

Everything is with a controlled environment. There's a lot of thought going into it because the former journalist in the team, I always ask the questions that the journalists would ask and so I have the answers prepared. But law enforcement agencies have skilled media teams in their room. They're there. So, yeah, that's my top three strategy test, to look at the data for 90 days and be creative with the company.

 


[00:36:19.180] - Steve Morreale

So Joanne, we're talking to Joanne Sweeney and Galway and she is the owner of the Public Sector Marketing Institute and has her own public sector marketing show. Podcast. When you say to take a look at data for 90 days, what am I looking at? In other words, what do I want to assess? What do I want to find? I understand we're counting, just like me with the podcast, how many did we have this month? And is it growing? Is it going up and where the locations people are listening from and all of those kinds of things, but feedback, creating a feedback loop. What should people be looking at? What do you stand by to assess or stand back to assess?

 


[00:36:53.950] - Joanne Sweeney

Yes, this is a great question. The key metrics that I'd be looking for is, number one, reach an impression. So that will tell you how many people have potentially seen your content. So your content has been served in their newsfeeds. That's really important, number one. And that will come back to your follower base. The second metric that's really important is called an engagement rate. And that's the benchmark figure that I produce in my studies. And an engagement rate is the percentage of people that took an action on your content, of the total number of followers that you have for the period selected in that audit, 90 days. So, for example, let's say we have 1000 people following us on Facebook and we get a 10% engagement rate. That means that we had 100 people liking, sharing, commenting, clicking on the link, watching a video. So an engagement is an action on the content. And that for me is a signal of real interest and curiosity. So not only did I see it, but I actually engaged with it. And then the third metric, this is where we're motivating people into action and maybe behavior change and real shaping public views and public opinions.

 


[00:38:03.510] - Joanne Sweeney

And this is called an action. So it's like getting them to come to your website and sign up for your newsletter or your weekly lives coming to an information session, do you have a local event, completing public consultation? So all of these. So don't forget that social can do so much more than just push out content. It can engage people in conversation, it can give feedback, but then you can motivate them into action. And I call that the aim method. Getting their attention is reaching their interest and engagement and then changing behavior is the motivation to act and listen. Let's face it, all of these brands, no matter what government agency or law enforcement agency we speak about, you have a brand profile. People know who you are, right. They might not know what you do this week that I need to know about. That's your job.

 


[00:38:49.300] - Steve Morreale

Well, part of what you're saying, too, is using social media to push out information and news, but also to control the narrative in terms of what we do, the good things that we do. And by the way, I think people need to know this isn't necessarily always free just because you're going to open up a LinkedIn or a Facebook. There are other things that may cost money, as you and I know. And so what are the cost factors? For example, how do you push your podcast out? What platform are you going to use? And the other thing I want to ask you is I know that there are platforms out there to automate distribution and to push out timing. What are some of the things that you might use so that you can sit and send one message out to ten different platforms but schedule it? But again, there's a cost to that.

 


[00:39:31.900] - Joanne Sweeney

Yeah, that's a great question. So in terms of resourcing social media, you're absolutely right. They're free to use at the point of engagement and publication of content. But what you want to do is you want to ring fence budget and make sure it's not touched. It meets before social media. So you would definitely have an advertising budget. This is where you're launching major public interest campaigns. Maybe it's a do not drink and drive or do not take drugs and drive. So that would warrant putting money behind it to reach as many citizens as possible to ring fence and advertising budget number one. Number two, you're going to want to ring fence CPD like proper accredited training on an annual basis and put a training plan together. Start off by doing a training needs analysis among your team, because you might have people there that have great skills that are being underutilized. Then you talk about the tools, the apps and the technology, because right now we have artificial intelligence and machine learning, which is a subset of AI. And a lot of these tools can do the work far quicker and more effective than we as human beings can do.

 


[00:40:32.440] - Joanne Sweeney

So social media management tools. So I use agorapole, so I've been using that for five years. Other examples are Falcon for Social, Hootsuite, and they allow you to kind of upload and schedule all of your content into one single dashboard. They'll also allow you to label content to having a look at content to specific campaigns and specific audiences. It will also give you analytics built into it, and it will also give you community management. So really managing social strategically is a really good idea. Other tools content creation. We're using Zoom. I use StreamYard for video. Canva is the best tool for visual storytelling. So C-A-N-B-A. If you can't catch with the Irish Accent, an Australian company and it's wonderful. There's a free version for creating graphics, but also animation and video. And they've recently bought a company called Flourish, which specializes in producing visuals from graphs and big data. So that will allow you to turn data into lovely graph. And then, yes, you can enable investment in your software, apps and tools. And then you might want a bit for outside consulting if you're doing a major piece of work and content creation.

 


[00:41:43.250] - Joanne Sweeney

Ideally, I always say social media should be in source into a team because you're the storyteller and you're the subject matter expert. So I prefer people to build from the inside out, but take the outside help when you need it, but really think about capacity within the organization.

 


[00:41:57.770] - Steve Morreale

Well, what you just said and you just said a mouthful when you ended with the storyteller. I think there is the point that there are so many great stories both from inside the organization and outside people who have benefited from police intervention or police help. And we don't really tell that story yet. We missed that point. And so what I'm hearing from you is it is time to stand up, no matter what size your agency is to stand up and create a strategy and to use it for outreach and allow access to people, whether it's the Detective Bureau or it's the juvenile Bureau or it's the prosecution Bureau or the chief or the school resource officer, there are so many different facets in a policing organization. The whole idea of mental health and how we're dealing with it, what is training? What are we doing to train? How do we handle it? Why do we walk up to you with our hand or our weapon. This is the reason it's not to shoot you by any means. It's to make sure that we're not threatened or that no one is going to grab the weapon. In other words, explaining what happens on a day to day basis, I think there's so many things that we could do to beat back the negativity that's coming through policing.

 

 

 

 


[00:43:06.030] - Steve Morreale

So as we wind down, what would you say? You have in essence, the last word. We're talking to Joanne Sweeney in Ireland and she is with the public sector marketing Institute. What are the important elements that you would leave the listener with?

 


[00:43:20.380] - Joanne Sweeney

Commit to bringing your agency into the age of engagement and that is a two-way conversation in real time with the public. Get rid of the fear by equipping yourself with knowledge and a plan and let social media help you do the great work and share the great work that you do. You can catch up. You can leapfrog even if you did nothing for the last five years and you feel left in, you can leapfrog and you could be right up to date within this year. Make 2022 the year that you catch up or that you move ahead because the longer you leave it further ahead you're going to be

 


[00:43:54.940] - Steve Morreale

Thank you very much. So we've been talking to Joanne Sweeney and she has offered so many ideas for police agencies across the world to get their message out using social media. And I thank you for all you're doing, all you've told us and I look forward to talking with you again. Thanks so much, Joanne.

 


[00:44:11.450] - Joanne Sweeney

Thank you for having me.

 


[00:44:12.200] - Steve Morreale

I appreciate it. So stand by for other episodes. Thanks for listening. This is Steve Morreale in Boston and you're listening to The CopDoc Podcast.

 


[00:44:21.190] - Outro

Thanks for listening to The CopDoc Podcast with Dr. Steve Morreale. Steve is a retired law enforcement practitioner and manager turned academic and scholar from Worcester State University. Please tune into the KOSDAQ podcast for regular episodes of interviews with thought leaders in policing.