You may have seen the Blackpool police appeal for a suspect who looked rather like Friends actor David Schwimmer.
You may have also seen the star’s tongue in cheek denial that he was involved.
Both updates were shared heavily online.
I’ve long argued that human comms should be part of the tool box online for comms people at the right time and in the right context.
It was people online who made the David Schwimmer connection rather than town police themselves.
— schwim (@DavidSchwimmer) October 24, 2018
The bright glare of publicity led to a suspect being arrested. So job done on the most important metric of all.
But aside from the arrest, what was the impact on Blackpool police of the tongue-in-cheek exchange? It’s a question that intrigued me. So, I ran a quick unscientific poll to try and capture some data.
The results were surprising.
60 per cent of people outside of Blackpool viewed the town police better
Of those surveyed, more than 60 per cent had a better perception of the Lancashire town’s police force.
Less than 1 per cent had a negative perception of the service and a third were unchanged in how they viewed the force.
IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE OF BLACKPOOL: What is your perception of Blackpool police after reading the David Schwimmer Facebook update?
Inside Blackpool, the stats were illuminating.
50 per cent of people in Blackpool itself viewed their police better
IF YOU LIVE IN BLACKPOOL: What is your perception of Blackpool police after reading the David Schwimmer Facebook update?
The numbers were different but again, less than 1 per cent viewed the town force negatively.
More people were unchanged in their perception – 50 per cent – but this is to be expected if people in the town have a view on the force.
But what is striking is that 27 per cent felt much better towards officers and 23 per cent better. Or, in other words, 50 per cent felt better about their force.
More than 350 people took part in the online poll on Twitter and 27 were from Blackpool. Clearly, this is unscientific. But it does start to give some useful feedback on how people perceive a less formal tone online.
Clearly, UK police forces can’t rely on enlisting Hollywood actors to help with shoplifting appeals.
But as a broad yardstick this does show that the human approach has a positive impact with audiences.
This does have a bigger impact in those outside of the area.
But there’s a striking majority of people in the town itself who think more positively, too.
Of course, you do have to be human to carry off this approach.