Discovery day is an important element to Epic’s overall strategy. Epic goes out to location before they start their production process to get an overall feel for the area and the department they are working with. I sat down with Epic’s CCO and Co-founder Alex Johnston to learn about everything that goes into discovery day and find out why it’s critical.
Q: Why is it important to have a discovery day before you go out to get photos and videos?
Think in order to capture the content that is relevant to the recruiting campaign, you have to know what it is. So you know, in terms of production, every minute, every hour, every day is critical. You have to have a plan going in. So that you can capture the content that you want to produce. Part of this process that we created, we can see finished products before we shoot a frame of video, so having kind of an outline, you know, developing a creative brief, having an understanding of what the narrative and message is going to be, dictates what content we’re going to capture and what we’re going to create. So you have to have a plan going in, in order to be successful coming out.
Q: Is there a step by step process you follow during the discovery day?
Yeah, we usually start out with meeting investors, our leadership, command staff, the recruiting team, any individual that is going to ask to assist us with this campaign along the way. What we do is, we just give them an opportunity of sharing their vision, you know, things that have worked in the past, things that haven’t. What are their strengths where their weaknesses, this is, first and foremost an opportunity to kind of lay everything out on the table. All ideas are good ideas.
Then the next step is conducting one on one interviews with the individuals who make up the department. Whether that’s someone with a unique background, whether that’s someone with a different specialty, or within a specialty unit. People who can speak to the professional growth opportunities, people who can speak to the vision for leadership, people who can speak to the on behalf of the community. It’s not just the individuals who make up the department, we invite outsiders to this process, people who can provide a testimonial to the department. An example would be discovery day in Newark, Delaware. The local NAACP wanted to be a part of it. So fantastic. We met with them for over an hour, and what came out of that meeting was they said, you know, we have always had a great relationship with the police department, they have always communicated with us, we’ve always communicated with them, how can we help with this recruiting campaign? So that led to us featuring them in one of the videos and they said they may not always agree on everything, but we will continue to support our local police department in their efforts, but they are great for the community.
We invite outside organizations as well, nonprofits, and city council members. We just interviewed the mayor in Grand Rapids. We can talk about ourselves all day, but when someone talks about us, on our behalf, and they provide a testimonial, sometimes that’s a little more impactful. So everyone from people who are just recently hired to talk about their process in choosing an agency, to people who have been there for 25 years. We just want to get a huge range of individuals. It’s not uncommon for us to interview 30 to 40 people in one day, but for us, that is going to speak to the diversity of the department, and that’s one of our main goals.
Q: Is there anything else important that you think people should know about discovery day?
I think it’s really identifying what opportunities you might have to attract people who might be looking for this profession. So really being honest again, self reflection of who you are and how you want to tell your story. The bottom line is let’s identify who you are and how you want to tell your story.
Q: What is discovery day?
Discovery day is an opportunity for our agency to learn what makes up the culture, community, the personality of the department, understanding who they are and how they want to be represented in a marketing campaign. Also understanding who the audience is for the message that we’re going to be developing. So it’s almost like a self audit of the department or a reflection of who they are. What we’ve found, and what our goal is, that every department is unique, they have a unique story to tell. Discovery day is when we find out what that story is. But overall, discovery day is an opportunity for the department to identify who they are and how they want to be represented in a recruiting campaign.
Q: What do you work on in-between discovery day and production?
Yeah, we’ll produce a creative brief, then we will provide specific concepts and storylines that we want to follow. But overall, we dictate what the direction of the campaign is going to be. So we’ll come up with a mock up design, a tagline. Then we’ll come up with five or six stories that we’re going to follow and want to capture when it comes to production.
Q: What advice would you give departments before discovery day?
Yes, starting now, it’s all hands on deck. Everybody should be involved at some level with this recruiting campaign. Everybody at the end of this process needs to be on the same page. That starts with getting everyone involved, being good communicators, making sure that they know what our objectives are and how we’re going to accomplish them. I think the most successful campaigns that we’ve created is when everyone feels that they are part of it, everyone feels the need to participate. Everyone should feel like they have an understanding of what their role is in this process. So from day one, it’s all hands on deck.