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SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING SPEAKER PRESENTATIONS Download 200+ talks and case studies from past SMSS events!

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How San Francisco Fire Department Uses Social Media as a Tool for Building Community Relationships & Trust

Social Media as a Tool for Building Community Relationships and Trust

The San Francisco Fire Department initiated an aggressive approach to providing Public Information months prior to Super Bowl 50, 2016.  At this time, the community trust in public safety was low, and false media reports and speculative perceptions led the public to believe an arsonist was running rampant throughout the Mission District of San Francisco. Almost 4 years later, we now have a great relationship with the community, media, and relative city agencies.

The Role of Transparency and Improved Communications

In 2016, the San Francisco Fire Department had limited staffing and resources to provide community and media information related to multiple items, including incidents, accusations, and public perceptions (usually false).  By forming bonds with community leaders, hearing the needs of the community, working with City leaders, and having the support of the Fire administration, we have grown to a point now where we have a good information flow, and trust with the communities and entities we serve.

Developing your Agencies Voice on Social Media

This one was hard; I won’t candy-coat it. I look forward to sharing my obstacles, and the rewards we now see.

What do your community members expect from Public Safety Agencies Online? 

This requires daily re-evaluation. In San Francisco, we have many that communicate in different ways, expect services, and may be confused if messaging is not delivered properly. 

This case study will discuss tips we used to strengthen relationships with our communities, government and private entities, and the news media. The San Francisco Fire Department continues to use re-evaluate these strategies to provide incident updates, critical aid information, public education, and safety alerts to the communities we have sworn to serve.

During this discussion you will hear:

  • Examples of assessing the needs of your agency, city/business, and the community served.
  • What worked and didn't work when trying to collaborate with community members, city agencies, and the media develop a system to get messaging out.
  • The challenges of keeping up with constant media information requests for day to day operations and during an incident.
  • Fighting misinformation (in media coverage and social media) and getting the right message out, with or without the media's help.
  • The use of a body camera to assist the PIO with combating false reporting. 


Jonathan Baxter
San Francisco Fire Department

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