John R. Kowalski Integrative Marketing Fusion

Social Media and the PIO

Social Media and the PIO

John R Kowalski's firefighter jacket rests on the fire truck.

To show and not show through social media?

One of the challenges I have been wrestling with lately is what and what not to show through social media on my departments pages. I understand the need to show the community a glimpse into the life of a firefighter but also have a strong sensitivity to the victims of a fire and the need for their privacy. Putting myself in the shoes of someone who just lost their house and belongings I’m not sure I’d want the remains or flames posted for the world to see. I believe there needs to be a balance between what we do vs. privacy but I’m not exactly sure what that is.

I do know it’s appropriate to show training photos/videos, along with community events and education. That helps awareness, recruitment, community engagement and value we bring to a community. But on scene or during overhaul… I’m not sure.

The NFPA 1600 illustrates the Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management which is more about the dissemination of public information during emergencies rather than day-to-day operations.

I also found a couple good articles on the subject. One from Chief Miller on Does Social Media Belong in Today’s Fire Service? Another from Linda Willing on 3 simple ways to avoid a fire department PR nightmare. And one from John Kosiak on Fire PIOs Taking Advantage of Social Media.

Take a look at these for reference. I would also love to hear your opinions and what your department policy on social media is.

Stay safe!

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