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Top Tips for Using Social Media to Promote Your EMS Agency

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When Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) paramedic David Center received a call to Richmond's Belle Isle in the middle of the James River he decided to snap a photo of his unit as he guided it over the narrow access bridge.

As is the practice among many of RAA's staff, he forwarded it to RAA COO Rob Lawrence who leads RAA's media and PR efforts. Lawrence edited Center's photo, crafted a PSA message to accompany the image and tweeted it out via the RAA Twitter account. That message commented on river safety and the fact that rising waters make rocks in the river smaller—an essential indicator to sun seekers that they could soon be marooned and require rescue.  

Very quickly the message attracted retweets and likes. The folks at local TV station 8 News were so taken with the message and photo that they turned it into a public safety story on the 11 p.m. news.

Combining one photo with 20 words and a hashtag took just minutes; the effect of conveying a simple prevention message and keeping RAA in the public eye was both immediate and positive. In the age of the Twittersphere, images both good and bad are instantly available and will be rebroadcast, but RAA sees these mediums as a force for good.

"It takes a second to capture a great image and get it out there" says Rob Lawrence. "With a well chosen paragraph or two, any organization can promote itself, its events and, most important, its people."

Organizations wishing to raise their profiles and generate great PR can easily follow the RAA approach. Start by snapping a photo of organizational activity and writing a brief description and doing no more than sending it to editor@emsworld.com. The fruit of that effort guarantees a worldwide audience, with possibly thousands of likes and hundreds of shares, all for five minutes of work.

Social media activity should follow an agency's social media policy, with HIPAA regulations always in mind. Against that backdrop, good and positive PR can be quickly generated. 

Follow these simple rules for success: 

  • Organizations should ensure that its PIO or media spokesperson places the posts;
  • Learn to be succinct, getting your message out in as few characters as possible;
  • Keep the social media passwords close at hand, as freelancers can undo your good work;
  • Use good photographs. Be mindful of lighting and composition to generate the most impactful images; 
  • After making a post, have a set of talking points to accompany it or an expert on hand to respond to any media questions.

If used with forethought and positive imagination, social media can be a force for good and place your company station or squad on the map for all the right reasons. E-mail your social media success stories to editor@emsworld.com.

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