By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer
My fire service colleague Tanya Bettridge is the Captain for Public Education at Mississauga (ON) Fire and Emergency Services. But more than that, she’s an extraordinary communicator when it comes to developing effective fire and life safety messages for the public. Here I’ve borrow a piece that she posted over on LinkedIn the day after Christmas:
Take a look at your holiday messaging. Now look at it as if you were a company trying to sell you and your peers something—beer, a toaster, a car, financial services, maybe fishing gear or salon services—would your “ad” convince you to make those purchases?
If so, congrats! You get that we all need to “sell” safety.
If not, your homework will be to browse commercials and ads, take note of which ones caught your attention. List the reasons why. Then apply those techniques to your next safety message. (Hint: you generally don’t buy stuff because the company said, “Hey you, buy this!” You likely considered making a purchase because a company made it a compelling decision).
Smoke Detectors Save Lives!
Maybe the worst slogan ever created? Why? Because nobody thinks that they are going to die in a fire. It’s a human thing. We think we’ll live forever, which is why we have such a hard time dealing with death, both here in the U.S. and in Canada.
And that’s why I think the slogan is bad. It’s trying to “sell” something that people aren’t compelled to buy. Not only that, but we package the slogan with colorful and cute pictures of “Sparky the Fire Safety Dog.”
As Tanya would say, “You’re not trying to sell them a smoke alarm. You’re trying to sell them on preserving what’s good in their lives.” But what if our marketing of fire and life safety message looked more like this: