Let NYPD do anything in social media and it makes news that reverberates across geographies. The perception is that if NYPD does it this way, so should we. That’s a recipe for disaster for sure. The problem with this latest social media initiative from NYPD is that it lacks planning, a proactive strategy and thoughtful implementation.
#myNYPD was not in itself a bad idea. It’s brilliant actually, but the timing was bad, very, very bad. We’ve pulled it off in other cities. Check out the Dallas Police recent social media program launch with hashtag #DPDtweetsBig. All and all, it was a tremendous success! Why didn’t the same thing happen in New York City? It didn’t happen because the Dallas Police has been using social media successfully for a number of years and have proven themselves as leaders in this space. NYPD has not done that.
Disclaimer: Dallas Police is a LAwSComm client.
Dallas Police, at times, do not have the greatest relationship with their local media, and yet their media respected this effort and sorta, almost, if you squint your eyes, supported it. Why? Because it was a well thought out part of a process that was after years of stellar social media work by Dallas Police and then many months of planning of a larger strategy. In house, sure we had conversations akin to “wait until a DPD cop tweets something really REALLY controversial”. Heck, it’s Dallas, it could be the Chief himself. THEN the Dallas media will be saying, “Oh yeah, DPD tweets big alright!” But if that happens, the Dallas Police Department will handle it well because it has planned for it.
Consider also the Global Police Tweet-a-thon. We’ve done the event twice (in 2013) with the hashtag #poltwt. We’ve had hundreds of police agencies and officers from all over the world tweet during the 24-hour period beginning in New Zealand and traversing westward across the globe.Have we had input from naysayers? Yes, of course we have. But not to the degree NYPD has experienced with their poorly thought-out initiative.
The NYPD should develop a strong, proactive and comprehensive agency-wide social media strategy and try #myNYPD again only after it has established itself in this arena. They need to conduct due diligence to discover their audiences’ perception and attitudes and informational needs. They then need to address those needs and attitudes. Only THEN should they attempt to conduct a PR event such at #myNYPD and only as a piece of a much larger communication strategy.
What compelled me to write this post was not so much because I think NYPD screwed up all that badly. I give them credit for going for it and trying to up their game with social media. Instead I’m reflective of the commentary that followed, especially within law enforcement. Of equal concern to me is the degree to which the opinions were of two polar extremes. Some within law enforcement have come out publicly to say it was a great move and they hope to see more of the same from NYPD. Others within law enforcement have posted opinions along the lines of “I told you social media was a bad idea for police” sort of comments.
All of the above are lacking key ingredients such as critical thought, analysis and well, intelligence.
The #myNYPD campaign was not a complete failure. It needs to be taste-tested a bit more, definitely calling for less salt, more sugar. Bake it longer and test it for doneness. Most importantly, only serve it to your guests when it’s solid, sweet and ready, and something to be proud of.