I have talked about law enforcement using Twitter for critical events and breaking news on several blog posts and during several presentations I have made over the last year. Twitter is a great platform to push information out because people typically gravitate towards Twitter when something big happens in their community. Heck, our world is so small today. It really doesn’t matter where something happens geographically. People from across the globe will immediately search Twitter for the appropriate hashtag so they can follow the event.
I recently spoke at the International Association of Chiefs of Police PIO Section Mid-Year Conference in Arlington, Texas. The conference had many topical presentations of interest to PIO’s across the country. Several PIO’s and police officers presented case studies about incidents they had experienced in their jurisdiction and their response to and management of the media.
Of particular interest were presentations by the Erath County SO about the Chris Kyle Homicide, the Garland Police Department about the terrorist attack, the Waco Police Department about the West Texas explosion and a little bit about the Twin Peaks motorcycle gang shootout, the Dallas Police Department touched briefly on the recent attack on their department and the St. Louis County Police discussed the aftermath of the shooting in Ferguson. All of the presenters did a fantastic job and provided fantastic insights into interacting with the media during a crisis.
There were also many other presentations about social media, advanced social media, using podcasts, video production and various other topics that were helpful to all attendees.
The very last session was a group of panelists from the Arlington, Texas area media from television, print and radio. This great panel answered questions and discussed how we can all work together to accomplish both our law enforcement goals as well as the goals of the media, recognizing there are times when these do not align. They offered tips, advice, made observations and had a frank discussion with all attendees.
One of the fascinating exchanges for me was when almost all of the panelists talked about social media, in particular Twitter. The panelists said they “love” it when police departments posts their breaking news stories and updates on Twitter. Almost all of the reporters have a Twitter account and follow their local departments, PIO’s and other law enforcement professionals who are on Twitter.
They did offer some advice when it comes to Twitter. They asked that PIO’s who have an individual account and posts department information on it, that this information also be posted on the department account since not all reporters follow each individual PIO but most reporters do follow the department’s account.
I thought these comments were spot on and aligned with my own observations in the community that I serve. If your department is not own Twitter, get on it today.
Learn how to use it.
Build those relationships.
Follow the media in your area and you will be prepared to tweet when the next crisis arrives. It is only a matter of time before it’s your turn in the fish bowl. Be prepared!
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about Twitter. I am also about to release “How to Use Twitter: A Guide for Law Enforcement” on Amazon. If you would like to receive advanced notice of its release and discount pricing go to www.lesmchief.com and sign up to receive this notification. You can also text LESM to 66866 and enter your email address when prompted.