- Contact Name: Public Information Manager Mark Economou
- Contact Phone: 561.338.1374
- Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: 8/31/2010
The Boca Raton, Florida, Police Department (BRPD) is situated in a destination location, where the population of 89,000 swells to about 130,000 during the winter. Several large corporations are also located within the city limits making the weekday, day time population around 300,000. This fluctuating population is served by just under 200 sworn officers and approximately 100 civilian employees.
In 2007 BRPD set up a MySpace page with a focus of garnering information for an unsolved homicide. While many leads were generated from this site, the maintenance and focus of the MySpace account began to fall by the wayside. In late 2008 and early 2009 the department decided to reenter the social media realm, this time with Facebook, Twitter, and their own interactive department website. With the assistance of a public relations firm, the department developed the VIPER branding that has become synonymous with BRPD throughout the region.
BRPD has a unique view of their role in the community; they view the department as a business with a consistent brand, and they view the community members as customers. This view has shaped the way they do business, and how they have approached their use of social media. As public information officer, Mark Economou, put it, “No matter what you think people want, you never know until you ask.” And so, BRPD did just that, hosting four focus groups over the course of four days with a total of 40 community members in attendance. The focus groups provided feedback, both positive and negative, on the VIPER branding materials, and helped shaped the future branding plan as well as the BRPD social media strategy.
In conjunction with the strong branding and view of their role in the community, BRPD also has clearly defined goals when it comes to social media. Effectively engaging the community is the number one priority of their social media and overarching communications strategy. Therefore, instead of merely pushing information out, the BRPD sites are designed to allow for open, two-way communication. This philosophy and the practice of pushing content immediately to the public allow for heightened levels of transparency, a characteristic that is valued by the city government in Boca Raton, as well as communities across the nation. Further, these new channels of communication allow BRPD to show their customers what the department is doing, highlighting efforts that are routinely passed over by traditional media outlets.
By using social media, BRPD has been able to effectively market themselves within their community, increasing awareness and establishing positive relationships.