As fire departments and safety orgs across the globe struggle to connect with audiences to inject fire & life safety messages, I have good news to share. With a teaspoon of cleverness, a half cup of creativity, and a dash of good timing, your FD can capitalize on “what’s trending”. Every special occasion or major world event starts a hashtag trend. Find the trend, and use it.
Cleverness/creativity can’t be taught, but they can be inspired. Here are some examples to get your noggin’ thinking from new angles.
Approaching New Year’s Eve is a time ripe for celebration safety tips and “New Year’s Resolution” themed campaigns. Like making a resolution to check smoke alarms every month; but if you want to catch people’s attention, inject your message with humour.
Or how about post-New Year’s, when a portion of the population are suffering the shame of failing to stick with their NY’s resolutions?
“Smoke alarms don’t have scales. You can feel great every time you test one. #newyearsresolutionfail #testsmokealarmsmonthly”
Oh yeah… one of my favourites. Who knew smoke alarms and fire safety could be romantic?! One tweet I did that got a ton of retweets:
This V-Day, give your loved one a smoke/CO alarm with a card that says “I love you so much, it’s ALARMING!” #ValentinesDay
So did these:
What does the Easter Bunny do? Hides eggs/treats/presents. Where does he hide them? Well if your FD has anything to with it, he’d hide them in the home escape plan meeting spot, of course! Encourage parents to “ask the Easter Bunny” to involve home escape planning for Easter Sunday & don’t forget the #EasterBunny hashtag.
CANADA DAY, INDEPENDENCE DAY, ETC.
I try to use a little more blunt messaging for these, because those events can be so tragically devastating. From safe driving to fireworks safety to camping tips, using the event #CanadaDay or #IndependenceDay trending hashtags will give your messages more exposure.
THANKSGIVING & CHRISTMAS
While so many fire departments focus on parades and Christmas tree fires, I look at the stats. Unattended cooking is by far a more likely source of a holiday fire disaster than a Christmas tree fire. The NFPA® has lots of slogans and messages to use, or you can create your own.
DON’T FORGET DIVERSITY!
If you have a multi-cultural community, chances are your holiday-themed campaigns have not covered some of the events your community celebrates. From Hanukkah to Diwali, Matariki to International Lefthanders Day, be sure to change things up. One look at your community’s census/demographics data and you’ll know exactly which celebrations you should include next.
THE FOOD THAT UNITES US
One of the most effective ways to get people’s attention is to post a recipe. Whether it’s a jpeg version, a link or video, it’s a great way to pause the scrolling. Last year I posted a video of famous chef Gordon Ramsay teaching people how to cook the “perfect turkey”. I tweeted something about watching what you heat to avoid creating “Kitchen Nightmares”.
I have found success in focusing on the social aspect of the holiday and how that aspect affects fire safety; namely, unattended cooking and having guests over that don’t know your two ways out. Try to keep it cheery by being cheeky.
TREND FIRST, SAFETY SECOND
As much as we want safety to be first in everyone’s minds, our audience doesn’t work that way. By hooking them with the trend first, you can get their attention. If you can elicit an emotional reaction, (a chuckle, laugh, gasp, etc.) the second half of your message (the fire safety half) will be memorable. When something like fire safety is memorable, it’s most likely to turn into action. Which is precisely the goal we’re trying to achieve in the first place.
As always… have fun with it!