We have to stop saying that we communicators aren’t good at promoting ourselves. We should be brilliant at promoting ourselves. And here is one good way of telling our story.
by Charlotte Parker
When I tell people that I work in police communications, I tend to get one of two replies.
Either people assume that I answer 999 calls.
Or they ask me if I can arrest people – and they’re always disappointed when I explain I do neither.
It’s a problem no doubt experienced across the communications field.
The very nature of our work means that we’re not the ones in front of the camera, or with the by-line. We’re not the ones who front a campaign or an important staff email.
We’re the ones behind the scenes, making it all happen.
Yet the role we as communicators have can be just as important as any other in an organisation.
During a murder investigation, the media strategy and close working relationship between the communications team and the investigation team is crucial; both in terms of helping to solve the crime, and providing reassurance to an understandably concerned community.
A well planned awareness raising campaign can lead to an increase in people coming forward to report abuse, people who may not have otherwise had the confidence to speak out.
Our social media posts – as well as providing vital public engagement at a time when the visibility of uniformed police officers is very much in the headlines – can lead to vulnerable missing people being found and offenders being identified.
Those are just a few examples of how every day police communicators are helping to fight crime and protect people.
In 2018 I was elected as one of the Vice Chairs for the Association of Police Communicators (APComm). We provide extensive training and professional development opportunities for our members, and represent police communicators at a number of national meetings and working groups.
I’m not a head of communications or even a manager - something I’d always mistakenly assumed you would have to be to do a role like this - but I wanted to get involved in APComm because I love what I do and I wanted to help inspire others working in this field.
As a new committee in 2018 we set a number of priorities – including raising the profile of police communicators and sharing best practice.
As part of this, we decided to re-invigorate the APComm Twitter account and use it to showcase the fantastic work our members are doing.
Inspired by @NHS, which is given over to a different person within the NHS each week to tweet from, we decided to hand over the reins of our account to a different police communications team each week.
The idea is to highlight the positive work up and down the country, showing the depth and breadth of our work.
We want to show people why we love our jobs, to encourage others to join us, and to generally give people an insight into this lesser known area of policing.
We’re only three months in but it’s going well. We’ve increased our following by more than 60% and each time a new team takes over the account we’re seeing our engagement improve – the interest is definitely growing.
But what’s great to see is just how keen teams have been to get involved.
Police communicators are (quite rightly) proud of what they do and passionate about their work, and that comes through in spades with every single tweet.
Just because we work behind the scenes, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell our stories.
Charlotte Parker is senior communications officer at Eastern Region Special Operations Unit and vice chair at APComm
image via Flickr Commons