Kayleigh’s Love Story: The Future of Police Marketing?

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When it comes to marketing it can be easy to get stuck in a loop of creating regurgitated, uninspiring content and not breaking the mould due to fears of failure or negative repercussions. Kayleigh’s Love Story is the perfect example of when pushing the boundaries of content marketing can really succeed and make a significant emotional impact.

Originally the video was posted online at 9 am on Tuesday and had been watched by some 1.3 million people within just 24 hours, generating widespread media attention and inspiring tens of thousands of people to take to social media to praise the courage of Kayleigh’s parents for allowing the film to be made, applauding Leicestershire Police for making it and sharing it with their local network – using the #kayleighslovestory hashtag.

If you have not already seen this video please be warned that if this was to be screened at a cinema, it would carry a 15 certificate and it does contain content that some viewers may find upsetting.

This video has already empowered 20 children and given them the courage to report potential cases of grooming to Leicestershire Police – potentially saving multiple lives. One would imagine the desired effect of a video this powerful would be to encourage children across the country to also report crimes to their local police service.

From a marketing perspective, this video is showcasing that case studies are no longer reserved for companies and agencies self-promoting their services or goods but that they are finally being introduced for a wider range of purposes – in this case building awareness around the risks of grooming and sexual exploitation. This could be the start to a new-age of localised crime awareness and prevention on social media.

Why is this different from other law enforcement campaigns?

It is human. By using a true story the emotional connection created with viewers intensifies massively. Knowing that the video is a reconstruction of the crime instantly adds a layer of impact impossible to duplicate through fiction. It resonates on a range of different levels dependant upon the demographic of the viewer; as a mother it tugs on a range of primal emotions, from fear to helplessness, whereas younger viewers can easily identify with Kayleigh’s situation and feelings. As it is voiced from Kayleigh’s perspective, this brings the viewer into her life momentarily; like reading a diary.

This hasn’t really changed things – has it?

Some Public Sector organisations have been pushing the limits with their marketing campaigns. Look back to 2009 when THINK! released their national TV advert encouraging drivers to slow down by highlighting the injuries hitting a child at 60 mph could cause when compared with 30 mph. It was a graphic advert featured on prime-time TV that shocked and moved many.

Now with the birth of social media, localised organisations possess the abilities and tools to create, distribute and measure similar thought-provoking marketing content. However most have not taken advantage of this medium due to fears surrounding the usage of social channels. Hopefully campaigns like Kayleigh’s Love Story – human, fact-based and innovative, will open the gates for more Police Services to embrace this method of content to spread awareness to their local and wider communities without fear.

How could this progress?

Localised campaigns like this one could be the next big move forward for Public Sector organisations. Gone are the days of needing to feature on programs like Crimewatch to raise awareness around missing persons, criminals at large or to raise awareness around community issues. Local Police Services do not have or need the budget to run prime-time TV adverts as they can turn to social media for a similar effect. With teenagers spending on average 2.1 hours a day watching TV and up to three hours a day online, digital outlets are organically becoming the best place to engage with a younger audience offering local forces a free marketing outlet that has the ability to create a similar effect as a TV advert.

What does this mean?

The potential is endless; we could see videos highlighting people whose ambulances came too late due to prank callers, or videos of recovering drug addicts explaining their story and the issues they faced with their health since, and even videos from gang member’s explaining how quickly their life went down the wrong path and the struggles of returning to the straight and narrow. True stories are always the most powerful and that’s why it is commonplace for businesses use case studies. Real-Life stories are the way forward not only for Retailers and Agencies, but also for Police Forces and potentially other Public Sector bodies.

Social media has become a key tool in Marketing and is being utilising by more diverse organisations. Already this year we have seen Kayleigh’s Love Story sweep the nation and turn into a viral sensation whilst elsewhere Kingston Police use Twitter to showcase the human-side of their brand and humour whilst attempting to convince a suspect in a burglary to get in touch. The potential for Police Services on social media is constantly unfolding and already this year is showcasing some innovative social activity and fresh approaches.

Author: Rhiannon Birch is a Marketing Consultant at Cheshire Cat Marketing, a full service marketing agency that specialises in helping SMEs to grow with innovative campaigns and ground-breaking concepts. Follow her at @RhiSkywalker.

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