by Aaron Holloway
Ever thought of using a celebrity to endorse and help spread your key messages via social media? I’m not talking about getting an “A list” Hollywood movie star as we all know that most law enforcement budgets don’t extend that the far.

The Bay of Plenty District of the New Zealand Police were looking for a new way to get their key messages around teenagers  keeping themselves safe  over the New Years Eve holiday season. In the past we had used mainstream media to try and reach our target market, along with using our social media channels.

Whilst we had a reach of over 40,000 on our Tweet- a-thon over New Years Eve 2013 at one of our districts main holiday destinations, we were not completely hitting our target market of young people aged 11-20 years old.

We decided we should try and find an “A list” social media celebrity who had a following that included our target market and was someone who Bay of Plenty Police would be comfortable to partner with in a law enforcement campaign. Ideally this celebrity would live in New Zealand as this would make communicating with them a lot easier, however this is no small feat in a country with just over 4 million people living in it.

We decided to approach Jamie Curry from Jamie’s World who has 7.5 million likes on Facebook and is a 17 year old young lady from Napier in New Zealand. She is extremely talented and posts short videos on Facebook as well as her Youtube channel making light of a broad range of teenage issues. She has followers in New Zealand but also thought-out the world including 2.5 million in USA and 3 million in the United Kingdom.

Jamie is a very socially minded young lady who was very keen to assist us in reaching our target audience and in her style was able to create a very funny 4 minute video which addresses the serious issues around alcohol and drink driving. The phase “I would rather be uncool than unsafe” refers to teens just saying no to drinking alcohol and getting into vehicles with drivers under the influence.

The video was released just before the Christmas and New Years Eve holiday period and straight away was a huge success with Youtube giving the “301 views error” as it was unable to keep up with the amount of views. The video has already had 650,000 views in just two weeks and the comments about Jamie doing this type of video and talking about these types of issues have been extremely positive.

So if you are looking at a new way to get your key messages out to your target audience you may want to consider our approach but make sure you select the right “A list” social media celebrity.

Sergeant Aaron Holloway is the Intelligence Collections Coordinator for the Bay of Plenty District of the New Zealand Police. He has led the social media developments in the Bay of Plenty District and nationally for the New Zealand Police. He has been consulted by other districts of the New Zealand Police to assist them in setting up their social media channels and led several national projects around social media. These have included using social media in a critical incident environment, as in addition to his intelligence role he is a current serving police negotiator and social media advisor to the New Zealand Police Advanced Negotiation Team. He is also currently leading a team creating the national social media policy for Police Negotiation Teams, Armed Offender Squads and Special Tactics Groups.

Aaron implemented the first tweet-a-thon for the New Zealand Police over New Years Eve 2012/2013 in Tauranga which is a popular holiday destination in the Bay of Plenty utilizing the Twitter account @BOPPolice. Also during the #Poltwt Aaron made sure that his district was very active, as being in New Zealand means they will always be the first law enforcement agency to start the #Poltwt.

In 2013 he led a team which worked with social media celebrity Jamie Curry from Jamie’s World. Jamie assisted the New Zealand Police in reaching teenagers of New Zealand and spreading key messages around alcohol and drinking and driving. Jamie has nearly 8 million likes on Facebook and her ‘Jamie’s World’ styled video has had nearly 800,000 views on Youtube.

Aaron will be presenting at this year’s SMILE conference in Tampa Florida around some of the social media projects he has been involved in. As well as giving case studies around how the New Zealand Police has used social media in various law enforcement situations.