how shooting your own star wars video delivered a safety message

There are huge numbers of people who like Star Wars as the launch of a new film in the franchise shows. So how would they react if a fire and rescue service used the force to deliver some safety messages? Rather well, it would appear.

by Mark Roberts

Kent Fire and Rescue Service is rethinking its approach to digital communications, with a new strategy already being worked on to coincide with the launch of a new campaign calendar for 2016/17. 

As the resident sci-fi nerd in the Comms team, I managed to persuade the powers-that-be a Star Wars parody would be an interesting and fun way to do a smoke alarm safety message - which is often a hard sell due to audience complacency - capitalising on the huge exposure generated by the release of the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.

“It was a boring conversation anyway!”

-          Han Solo, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

Costs were staff time only, as the location and props were supplied by family and colleagues. Planning and storyboarding was a fairly ad-hoc process, with some less practical ideas being discarded early on, or as it became apparent they wouldn’t work ‘in camera’. The shoot took about two hours, followed by about a half-day’s worth of editing to get the video ready to go.

Credit must go to our digital content officer, Dan Baugh, who did sterling work with the camera, lighting, sound and SFX, while Firefighter Paul Stanbridge shone in the role of our mysterious Jedi. I can only apologise to Sir Alec Guinness for my very poor attempt at impersonating him in the voiceover, however.

At the time of writing, we’ve spent around £100 on boosted Facebook posts and promoted tweets, but organic reach has been significant by our standards – the video has been viewed almost 30,000 times with a reach of almost 100,000 people, including 400 shares from a wide audience, including local and national media, fire and public services across the UK and in the US and Germany.

We’re very keen to do more creative digital communications along these lines, making sure to tailor our messages for each social media platform and aiming for much higher return on our investment of time, in terms of engagement figures and hopefully, positive feedback from our audience.

Watch the video here.

Mark Roberts is online communications manager at Kent Fire and Rescue Service.

Picture credit.