How to not reach Christmas number one- but still raise awareness amongst millions
Have you ever heard of the Everly Pregnant Brothers? Well here in South Yorkshire, they’re quite a big deal. Full of satire and joviality, the eclectic ukulele group take some of the biggest hits and give them a somewhat, creative twist.
So you can imagine our delight when we got wind of one of their more successful numbers, Chip Pan, singing the perils of cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol. And in the words of Aerosmith, it started with a little tweet, like this...
The band set the date, we set the filming location and we rendezvoused on a cold November morning in Central fire station. The beauty of this was that it took away the bureaucracy of deliberating over which watch would be best to feature in the video – we had to go with the watch on duty. What a fantastic day for all involved, not least the watch manager there to ‘facilitate’, who later became the lead role in the video. Six hours later, the band vacated with a ton of footage and, quite honestly, there was a bit of a buzz about the place.
Once the video was ready, we published it on social media and I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for the response. Within 24 hours it received a quarter of a million views and within three days we’d reached half a million. With the smell of festive cheer in the air, there was only one thing for it – tackling Christmas number one.
So calling in favours from the past, present and future we got to work with local media contacts taking a bit of a tongue in cheek approach. Things escalated quickly, and before we knew it we had not only national, but, global coverage. Staff from across the organisation really got behind the bid and there was a real sense of unity, something which became the most valuable outcome of the campaign.
It was not without its lows though, when the views started to dwindle, and a popular bookmakers doubled our odds. If there’s one thing we learnt it’s the importance of weathering the emotional storm that is the music industry, because every time we hit a low, we would shortly experience an epic high. First it was being invited to the band’s sell out gig for a performance on stage. Then it was Look North visiting us on station for a live recording. Then Channel 4’s Last Leg got in touch ... and just as we thought we had achieved everything possible, we got invited on the BBC Breakfast sofa!
So what did we actually achieve? Well, not a Christmas number one, that’s for sure. But actually, the outcomes of this campaign were, well, priceless. For the first time in a long time morale was high within the organisation. People were talking about it – there was a real sense of excitement in the air. Central red watch were a part of something huge – and even their families were getting behind the camera to support their bid. Fellow firefighters, support staff and even the Chief were rallying for the win – and we achieved all of this internal engagement for the price of ten t-shirts. It just goes to show, with a little imagination and a sprinkle of festive cheer, you really can make anything happen.
Find out more about the campaign on Storify here
- Laura Keen, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue
Elf-help produces huge Christmas social engagement for FRS teams
ENTANGLED in fairy lights, stuck in floods, taking ‘elfies and drink driving to name but a few…the fire service Elf on the Shelf was up to all sorts of antics in December as FirePRO worked collectively for a Christmas campaign.
Each service tweeted a photo of the elf each day to get across a different safety message or promote the work of fire and rescue services. They nominated another service to take up the challenge the following day, with each fire service encouraged to retweet the posts.
The tweets reached over 260,000 people over the 25 days ending with a video from Greater Manchester stating the elf’s messages should be for life not just for Christmas.
Hayley Douglas, Head of Media and Communication for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It was great to have so many fire service communication teams support the idea, which came about during a conversation around the lunch table at the FirePRO conference. We all have the same messages we want to get across in the run up to Christmas and so this was a way of saving some time and effort by only having to do one each. Thanks to everyone who took part.”
Hayley added: “We now have 10 months to plan something bigger and better for next Christmas!”
West Sussex' DIY video to promote diverse recruitment
Last year West Sussex FRS launched its first wholetime recruitment for eight years. All applications were snapped up within 24 hours and our first dozen firefighters passed out last August, leaving us with a dozen recruits in reserve, who have just started their training with us.
In December I was invited to a meeting to discuss what we could do to encourage greater diversity in our next recruitment drive – launching in the first week of February.
With Christmas and New Year looming, time wasn’t on our side so I decided to focus on roles within the FRS you might not be aware of, which just happen to be carried out by some of our female firefighters. My idea was each individual used in the film would say the same line – Think you know the fire and rescue service? Think again! I deliberately tried to avoid any stereotypes or language that could cause offence.
Two of us worked on our hastily planned film and we involved staff ranging from one of our new 2016 intake, to a Station Manager, and included other less well known roles, such as a female member of our Technical Rescue Unit in charge of a rescue boat.
It’s a sensitive area – but, so far, we’ve received very positive feedback. We should know later this year if it has had the impact we are hoping for.
You can view the video we produced here
- Claire Byrd, West Sussex FRS