Marketing Your Fire Department
In this recessionary climate, local governments, like all their regional counterparts, struggle to balance the books, and their beloved budgets, while protecting services essential to the people living in that region. No one likes to cut benefits, raise taxes, or otherwise compromise vital public services. But budget cuts force governments to do just that-cut services. As services reduce, costs rise. And as costs rise, budgets tighten.
If you want to build a solid and effective public relations campaign for your fire department, you need to start with a budget.
Local governments, including their state and national counterparts, often struggle to balance their budget, and citizens often view public service as an overpriced luxury. However, good marketing can help you promote your department both within your budget and in a manner that reaches your community.
Marketing for fire departments is all about making your public image known both locally and across the nation.
A well-thought-out marketing campaign will make a lasting positive impact on your department’s public image and increase your department’s budget while simultaneously reducing expenses and ensuring the public continues to have faith in your department.
The best way to build a strong public relations program for your fire department is to develop a Communications and Public Relations Plan (CPRP).
A CPRP includes a mission statement for your department, professional branding, public education, communications, and promotions.
- If you haven’t already created a CPRP, you should consider doing so now.
- It is an excellent way to ensure the public knows your fire prevention efforts are in full swing, your department is responsive and accountable, and that you are taking every necessary step to keep your firefighters safe.
There are many ways to develop a CPRP, but there are only a few steps that should be taken to maximize its effectiveness:
- Your fire prevention plan should clearly identify the role of your fire department within your overall community and state.
- You should highlight the importance of maintaining a safe and trusting relationship with the public.
- You should highlight the implementation of comprehensive public safety legislation, including mandatory fire prevention measures, as well as the implementation of emergency preparedness and fire safety equipment.
To market your fire department effectively, you must provide consistent training and public awareness.
This training should include the basics of fire prevention, fire safety legislation, and basic fire equipment. You should ensure that your firefighters review and pass the training before being distributed to the public.
Additionally, you should ensure that your public service announcements emphasize that your fire department is always prepared and willing to assist in any way.
For example, a news release may announce a fire station lost a fire engine to a fire but should include the firefighters’ response time and the location of the fire hydrant.
Likewise, a press release or letterhead message might inform the public that the fire department has responded to a fire and is offering assistance to the public.
Another way to effectively market your fire department is through the establishment of an annual public service call.
During this call, you will inform the public that you have a fire station waiting for them. At the end of the call, you can have a question and answer session with your firefighters. During this meeting, you can promote the department by asking them about your training programs, public service announcements, equipment, and training for fire blankets.
Additionally, you can promote your department’s accomplishments, such as fire academy graduates, fire department awards, and outstanding job performance.
Another way to effectively market your fire department is through advertisements.
You can have local newspapers and television stations distribute fire prevention literature to the public. These publications should carry advertisements for fire prevention, fire drills, fire fatalities, fire damage clean-up, fire safety education, and emergency response guidelines.
Your advertisements should also include:
- your department’s website address,
- a list of emergency contact information, and
- a list of emergency equipment that is featured on your fire trucks.
To further promote your fire prevention efforts, you can join many of the fire departments in your community in order to receive recognition for your efforts.
If you have a public relations department, you can create multiple radio and television commercials in different markets throughout your city.
You can also have these commercials appear on your department’s website, on your fire trucks, and on posters. You should also promote the positive characteristics of your fire department, such as the fact that all employees are fully trained, fire blankets are featured on fire trucks, and that your fire hydrants are visible to the public. By taking the time to market your fire department, you will be able to serve the public service by effectively promoting public service.