Police tweet for transparency, social media comment from shrosphire based matm

Friday 15th October 2010   by Stuart Bickerton

It ended at 5am this morning.  As I write, at noon, there are well over 590 news articles on Google in the last 24 hours alone.

Greater Manchester Police’s entry into the Twittersphere, sirens wailing and blue lights flashing, has grabbed the headlines, says Stuart Bickerton, of Shropshire marketing, graphic design, PR and web agency matm. The police explain why they’ve done it on this video on their website.

It has tweeted every one of its 3205 emergency calls in 24 hours. Though, as it became clear, to describe many of the calls emergencies would be a crime against common sense.

Despite burning through multiple accounts (Twitter blocks excess tweeting to halt spammers) and coping (or should that be reacting angrily?) with spoof twitter accounts, the exercise has been very well received.

It has certainly prompted conversation, comedy and, it appears, renewed respect for police, given what the public throws their way. Here are just some of the calls that have attracted an incredulous reaction and 14,000 followers on Twitter:

GMP call this an exercise in transparency, which is at the forefront of all good communication strategies. The serious subtext of this exercise is looming public sector budget cuts. The people of Greater Manchester now know how much time and money is being wasted on policing – and who is to blame.

It’s been a brave step but with careful planning, the importance of which cannot be overlooked here, Greater Manchester Police has certainly provided an inventive way of saying “look how busy we are “ as well as “look at all the rubbish we deal with.”

If they’d have a popped a press release out saying we’re a bit busy, can you be a bit nice to us please (or words to that effect) I’m not sure we’d have listened – would we?

So, as an exercise to highlight the difficulty of the work the police do, it looks to me like a job well done, an impressive conversation starter. Where it goes from here will be interesting to watch.

PR is changing and is all the better for it I say.

Follow us: @team_matm

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Twitter shows Greater Manchester Police’s 3,205 calls BBC NEWS
Police hail 24-hour Twitter move a success INDEPENDENT
Police hail “bobby on the tweet” experiment REUTERS
Cops in online scuffle over fake Twitter posts THINQ
Best of the Greater Manchester Police 24-hour Twitter experiment BEEHIVE CITY