First responders and other rescue organizations consist of various groups, including firefighters, EMTs, and even volunteer forces. Some of these rescue organizations hop into action when a forest fire breaks out or even when a child or person goes missing; they certainly encompass a wide range of purposes. Since many first responders and rescue organizations don’t need to set up their businesses – they already have names, locations, and officially registered statuses – the only thing that they truly need to focus on is marketing. Sure, your local fire department doesn’t need to market itself, but other rescue organizations do. This is particularly true if they rely on volunteers and donations. Here’s how these groups can put a basic marketing plan into place.
Branding Your Organization
It all starts with branding. In order to make your first responder group stand out from the others, you need a new logo. Your logo should obviously include the name of your group, as well as a graphic or something to illustrate exactly what it is that you do. For example, if your group is involved in search and rescue, then a helicopter or an orange safety vest will work nicely. As far as colors are concerned, you should stick with the classic red, white and blue, unless your organization has other specifications. For example, if you’re a branch of a large, nationwide group, then you might have to include their colors and images in your logo. It all depends on how much leeway you have. If your group is independent, then feel free to experiment a bit with the logo. All that matters is that the end results look professional and explains what you do in a single glance.
Next, your marketing efforts need to focus on exactly what your rescue organization does. Since you’re in the process of rebranding, you can send out a press release or two in order to get some publicity. You can include a picture of the new logo on the release so that it will be printed alongside your new information. This might be enough to draw in some new volunteers or donations. However, if you really want to make an impact, you’ll have to set up entire marketing or advertising plan. These include a web presence and some sort of plan on how to spread the word.
Setting Up a Web Presence
It goes without saying that every organization needs a web presence. You need a website filled with information so that people can contact you. A basic website should include details about exactly what your organization does, as well as a schedule of events, just in case you offer fundraisers or fact-filled seminars. The basic components of a website are a home page that contains information, an “about us” page with even more details and a “contact us” page. If your organization is large enough, you may have more than one “contact us” page. For example, you may have one for donation purposes and then one for people who need help. This is particularly true if you run searches for missing children. Your website needs to be well-written and contains as much information as possible. If you run a non-profit organization, then you’ll probably have to have a page explaining your non-profit status and listing your officers. You might even have a members-only portion of the website (safely accessible only by password) where your volunteers can find information. Finally, you’ll need a blog so that you can keep everyone up to date about everything.
Your group might also need to have a social media presence. This really depends on exactly what your organization does. If you deal with anything that falls up HIPAA laws, then you should probably be very careful about what you post. With that said, a simple Facebook profile or a Twitter account may enough to help bring about awareness of your organization. Unless your group is very large, you more than likely don’t have anyone who can spend a lot of time on social media, so in this case, sporadic updates are okay.
Spreading the Word
Spreading the word about your organization is the next step. You should definitely send out press releases. We already went over some of this in the re-branding section, but it needs to be emphasized. When you have an event, a fundraiser, a class, or anything going on (there should be a purpose) feel free to send out a number of press releases. You might also be able to set up interviews with local news organizations. This will help spread the word about your organization. Also, things like social media updates and new blog posts (especially if you use keywords and good SEO practices) will help as well. The goal is to make people aware of your group and what it does. Many people may not know, which doesn’t bode well your organization. If you run off of donations, then running a marketing plan will definitely help. Even if you have state or other government funding, then you’ll need to make people aware of any courses or seminars that you offer – or even the fact that you need more volunteers. Sending out a press release or doing an interview will raise your profile.
Many first responders, such as fire and police, don’t need marketing plans. People already know what they exist – and know to call 911. However, some other first responder groups, including the ones that handle search and rescue, maybe volunteer-run organizations that need all of the help that they can get. In order to bring in new volunteers or funding, they need to make their presence known. This is done with the help of a clever marketing plan. It all starts with a re-branding process that includes a new logo. That alone can get these groups a little publicity. After that, the rest of the plan is put into place, from a new website to social media accounts.