• Georgia Hatton

How Durham Police Won The Internet


Sometimes the most successful strategies are exceptionally simple. Proven as much by Durham Police only yesterday, who’s quick-of-the-mark tweet led them to some really impressive social engagement, as well as a lot of praise for their efforts (from the marketing industry and beyond).

The Dolly Parton Challenge: How To Do It Right

A few days ago, yet another viral trend took off. It’s called the #DollyPartonChallenge and though I don’t quite fully understand how it managed to get so much attention, I do know that it’s been very popular trend with both individuals and brands alike jumping on the bandwagon.

It ‘challenges’ you to show 4 versions of yourself, pictures appropriate for: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram & Tinder. It shows that depending on the social platform, there are many different ways to show yourself to the world.

Adding ‘social media prowess’ to the list of things Dolly Parton is now famed for, she kickstarted the trend by posting the following on her Instagram:

And since, everyone’s hopped right on the idea. Some being serious, many using it for a bit of a laugh. Coined the ‘Dolly Parton Challenge’ by those who wanted to have a go themselves, it’s now trending across Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram.

Side by side with the public who’ve gegged in one this, there’s the other party that are aboard the trend too, the brands. Those who are quick off the mark were clever enough to jump on this viral movement with their own renditions of the challenge. Many did so successfully.

But nobody, in my opinion, did it better than Durham Police who joined in on the movement themselves yesterday, but for a totally different reason.

Not to promote their brand, or to market a product – but rather to fight crime. (Three cheers for comms with a cause)! Their fast-thinking post serves as a reminder that with the right idea, social media trends can be used for any number of purposes. Using the Dolly Parton Challenge to direct attention to a wanted man in their area, Durham Police shrewdly saw an opportunity to plaster his face on social media, in a way that they knew would get good engagement. Rather than putting out your standard informational content, which probably would have got around 5 retweets at best, their use of light humour and capitalising on a viral movement saw them attain over 1800 likes at the time of writing, supported with just over 500 retweets. They’ve maximised the reach for a cause that’s admittedly hard to generate interest in, and all with one simple tweet. Somebody replied saying “you’ve won the internet today” and I totally agree with them.

Sometimes it’s the most simple things that make the most noise, as the Durham Constabulary has demonstrated here.

Why I’m Here For It

Someone inherently interested in public sector comms, I really understand that working in PR and Social Media must be an incredibly challenging job. You have such an important task at hand, all the while trying to raise awareness for ongoing causes while remaining a professional reputation. Durham Police make a real example of how to strike this balance perfectly. As with anything, there’ll be some people who aren’t the biggest fan of this. But I for one, am fully here for it.

I love it because:

  • Durham Police have perfectly generated a tonne of attention for something that most probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at a ‘wanted’ tweet had they have not embraced the challenge.

  • It’s honourably low-budget. A friendly reminder that social media is largely a free tool at the hands of any marketer. Use it – you have the potential of reaching an audience of over 2 billion people.

  • This goes to show that Twitter isn’t just for those who want to market products or services, it’s versatile and as long as you have a good idea, you can use it for multiple purposes.

  • It’s creative, and I looooove anything creative.

Big kudos to whoever runs Durham Police’s Twitter account, I’ve got a lot of appreciation for this one. And also hats off to whoever thought up of the Dolly Parton Challenge in the first place, because that’s awesome too.

By Jessica Pardoe, Digital PR Executive at The Source PR. This article originally appeared on jessicapardoe.com.

#socialmediamarketing #Socialmedia

Marketing Island is an award-winning online marketing magazine set to inspire females in the digital industry.

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