How PDs can use video to recruit new hires

A well-produced and thoughtful video can become an important multipurpose tool for every law enforcement agency


By Dan Cohen, West Street Productions

Captain Greg Guiton of the Ocean City Police Department faces some unique challenges in his annual search for officers. Located on Maryland’s eastern shore, Ocean City is a resort town in the heart of the state’s lucrative tourist industry. The population balloons in the summer, and so does the size of the city’s police department. Guiton’s task every year is to find seasonal officers to fill the ranks.

Thinking outside the box

Guiton knew he needed a police recruitment strategy that would attract a bigger pool of candidates in a very competitive environment. Using video was a key part of that strategy, along with a new website and a greater social media presence for his team’s marketing effort. But creating a recruitment video isn’t as simple as pressing record on your smartphone, which is why Ocean City PD hired a production company to assist with the project.

Considerations when using video

Video production must be carefully crafted. Every word and image communicates a message about your department and how you relate to the community you serve.

Social media also means your video can reach a global audience, viewed by people who want to be cops – and everyone else. A well-produced and thoughtful video can become an important multipurpose tool for every law enforcement agency.

In the case of Ocean City, the family vacation image weighed heavily in the shots we chose, and the scenes Captain Guiton and his team helped put together for us to film. The messaging we developed and the editing decisions were all deliberately crafted.

The idea of recruiting for a resort community also became a useful recruitment tool for summer help. It’s a great way to start out: get paid to spend a summer at the beach, while at the same time starting a law enforcement career with real police experience to put on a resume. Once they make it through an intense training academy, the seasonal officers at Ocean City are on the streets patrolling and answering calls. It’s the real deal.

How social media magnifies your message

The “Your Career Starts Here” video series has produced stunning results with more than 100,000 video views alone since the series debuted.

“Video allows us to reach thousands more potential applicants than we ever could before. People are hearing about the seasonal positions we offer for the first time thanks to this new recruiting tool,” said Guiton.

Facebook advertising also has had a great payoff. With a small investment, OCPD was able to target specific ad placements, translating into a larger pool of officer candidates.

“Now that we have a video series at our disposal, we are realizing much more innovative recruiting opportunities than we did before,” said Lindsay Richard, the public relations affairs specialist for OCPD who runs the department’s social media sites. “Not only are our recruiting teams using the videos during their presentations, but we are also able to reach potential applicants who we can’t physically speak to through social media and web advertising.”

New research shows that Captain Guiton’s instincts about video are right on target, and why it is paying off so well.

According to a study by Cisco, by 2019 video will represent over 80% of all internet traffic worldwide and, for the U.S., it will be over 85%. Visitors to a website stick around for about 10-20 seconds before clicking away, according to the Neilson Norman Group. Video is the tool that keeps people from leaving your site. Video also has a major impact on messaging, with Cisco reporting that 90% of users saying videos are helpful in the decision-making process.

How to hire a video production company

A professional video production is an investment; if it is successful, it can have a big payoff.

The best video producers are companies who have spent time around law enforcement, who understand the profession and instinctively know the impact of an image in a social world. One inadvertent image can easily send the wrong message.

The producer should help you focus your messages, what you want to communicate to officer candidates about the job, and what makes a career in your department more unique than others. They should help you identify who might be best in front of the camera as the face of your department to the world.

The producer should be able to give you an idea of cost with an estimated budget and a production timeline. While not set in stone, the estimate will help paint a picture of not only the cost in dollars, but resources as well. There are a lot of people to schedule if you are filming a number of units within your department.  A good production company knows the complicated logistics that are involved with pulling all the people together while remaining on budget.

The producers should be able to guide you on the most effective ways to get your video seen. Once you have filmed a scene, it can be repurposed for different platforms such as social media, websites, movie theatres, TV advertising and personal appearances.

Video is not a one-size-fits-all business. Every agency has a unique story – a good production company should be able to tell that story in a creative and unique way.

Conclusion

For OCPD, the investment in a well-designed recruitment video has paid off. It is now a key element of their recruitment marketing strategy.

While it will always be important to shake hands at recruitment events, with video, just one click allows you to reach thousands of people at a time.


About the author
Dan Cohen is president of West Street Productions, specializing in award-winning public safety, police and first responder video. Contact Dan at dancohen@weststreetproductions.com.

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