Police departments across the nation are facing a hiring crisis. With diminishing retention rates and fewer hires, departments are finding themselves understaffed. According to Brittany Winfrey, Digital Marketing Manager at Epic Recruiting, a Recruiting Agency that specializes in law enforcement, police departments recruiting methods have changed very little over the past 15 years.
“Agencies we talk to have been trying the same traditional outreach methods year after year regardless of whether they work or not,” Winfrey said in an interview.
Q. WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AT EPIC AND HOW ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH DIGITAL RECRUITMENT?
A. As the digital marketing manager at epic, I develop digital marketing strategy for all clients. This includes Google ads, Facebook, Instagram, X/Twitter and LinkedIn. I set up and manage all campaigns. I analyze campaign results monthly and generate client reports. The most important part of my job is developing the strategy behind the ads and understanding how to use that big picture strategy to make the individual changes to the campaigns to get the results we want.
Q. What are some advantages to digital recruitment?
A. Digital just takes everything a step further: people have the option to click, they can see your website after they see your ad, they can interact with you in ways that they haven’t been able to before. Without changes to how law enforcement agencies recruit, they will continue to struggle to gain the numbers they need to turn things around.
Q. What are some key factors to digital recruitment?
A. The most important part of my job is developing the strategy behind the ads and understanding how to use that big picture strategy to make the individual changes to the campaigns to get the results we want. By showing ads that people may be interested in, they go to the website, they click around, they interact, they watch some videos. We want to hold the viewer’s interest until they click on the application button.
Q. Social media seems to be an important part of digital recruitment, why is that?
A. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the main platforms that we use. Those are important because they’re growing your earned audience. You’re putting information out there that people are interested in. So they press the Follow button and they interact with your posts. Then the goal for those social pages is to get people to click through to the website, because once they’re in the website, we can target them with ads specifically catered to them. There is also a paid version of this strategy. Instead of earning our audience, we’re buying it, we’re getting those interactions from people that might not have any other way of finding the website. Then by showing them ads that they may be interested in, they go to the website, they click around, they interact, they watch some videos.
Q. Is there a way to implement traditional strategies into digital recruitment?
A. I wouldn’t say that they’re completely separate because they are both advertising, you’re just trying to get as many people in the door as possible. You have better measurement with digital ads than traditional ads. So I would say that, yes, you are implementing a lot of those same strategies, getting the most eyeballs on your ads as possible. But digital just takes it a step further. You need proof that what you are doing works to make the investment worth it, so if you can’t measure what you’re doing, you’re completely in the dark, and that is what we are seeing with traditional recruitment.
Q: What are the main differences between traditional recruitment and digital recruitment?
The main difference between traditional recruitment and digital recruitment is the outlets that you’re using. Traditional recruitment uses television, radio, billboards, newspapers, etc. Digital recruitment would be online methods. Using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. We can also use advertising, such as Google ads, Meta ads (Facebook or Instagram), Hulu ads, LinkedIn ads, etc.
Q. What is the most important part of digital recruitment?
A. Content creation is extremely important – without professional quality content, it does not matter what social posts we make or what ads we run. Online recruitment is the future of police recruitment. As opposed to traditional methods of outreach like TV or Radio, online recruiting consists of social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and department recruiting websites. In the past, people went to job fairs and in-person events. Advertisers used traditional media to reach people to generate awareness; with these methods it is nearly impossible to see if they are working. You need proof that what you did works to make the investment worth it, so if you can’t measure what you’re doing, what changed after you did it, or on the day that you did it, you’re completely in the dark.
Q. How does digital recruitment provide evidence that the strategies being used are working?
A. With digital recruitment, you are able to track the metrics. You can see who interacts with your posts and who clicks on your website and is engaging with you. This way you can visibly see what is working and what is not in order to make changes where you may need them.
Q. What should be a department's first step when trying out digital recruitment?
A. Figure out your brand. Have your own recruitment brand. Find something that works for your department as a whole but sets you apart from other departments. Once you have that brand, carry it across all of your platforms. Making sure all of your verbiage, fonts, and logos are consistent across all of the media you use. This helps create consistency with your brand and it will make you stand out.
Q. What sets Epic apart from other recruitment agencies?
A. Epic is different from other recruiting agencies in that we started as a production company. Another thing that sets us apart is that we are able to provide all of our services in-house; we do not hire out for anything. Everyone that we’ve got on our team knows what they’re doing and we are constantly learning about and improving the services that we provide.