Put a little pop (culture) into your PSAs

Guest Blogger: Katie Nelson, Social Media + Public Relations Coordinator, Mountain View, California, Police Department

Social media has shortened the public’s attention span significantly, and law enforcement agencies have known for some time that to captivate a non-captive audience, you have to be able to get your message across in mere seconds.

With the touch of a button, your publication has the potential to reach limitless screens, be it mobile, desktop, etc. But with roughly $80 billion projected to be spent on social media advertising for digital ads alone in 2017, how do law enforcement agencies compete with, or even outperform, those with big budgets to propel public safety messaging, a topic that can, at times, be totally dry?

The answer — pop culture.

Particularly in the coming year, Hollywood studios are launching films that will be a feeding ground for law enforcement to catapult their messaging to the next level. Characters from across generations will be gracing the silver screen and they have the power to draw significant attention for your agency. In fact, digital media and digital ads are expected to surpass all other forms of messaging for the first time by 2018.

No time like the present to join the fray. This past year alone, several agencies utilized the hype of Star Wars to retool the way in which they highlighted their own messaging standards, from the perils of drunk driving to recruitment efforts.

Example 1: Mountain View Police Department:

Example 2: Fort Worth Police Department:

Other agencies have found ways to incorporate pop culture phenomena like the rise of Pokemon Go or the Mannequin Challenge to send safety messages that captured the attention of viewers and ultimately, had them passing those messages along. The reach of those messages, thanks to their creative utilization of recognizable trends, games or characters, left an impression on those to think about safety measures that otherwise had the potential to be largely ignored.

Example 3: Locust Grove Police Department:

Don’t be afraid to be inspired by what’s around you. The more you can use popular culture to your advantage, the higher likelihood your messages about safety will cause others to watch or read what you have to say, and even more so, that people will actually listen to them. The goal is to not only catch someone’s eye, it’s to get them to listen to what you have to say.

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