Case study: Campaign marking centenary of women in policing boosted recruitment and engagement

A low-cost campaign by the Metropolitan Police’s in-house comms team, celebrating and showcasing the contribution of women to British policing, prompted a surge in applications from women wanting to become officers.

Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, launching the campaign with other women officers outside New Scotland Yard
Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, launching the campaign with other women officers outside New Scotland Yard

The '100 years strong' campaign marked the centenary of Britain’s first female police officers – something regarded as an ‘experiment’ by the government a century earlier.

The campaign, launched in November 2018, set out to promote the contribution of women to policing and encourage more women to join the ranks of the Met.

It was aimed at external stakeholders and potential female recruits as well as the Met’s internal audience.

A short video was created to explain the history of women in the Met and highlight the ways in which women work in modern policing.

It included an appearance by Met commissioner Cressida Dick in which she hailed the “fantastic milestone” as a “moment to celebrate the achievements of those who have gone before [and] the contributions so many women have made to keeping our city safe over the last 100 years”.

The video, which achieved more than 900,000 impressions, was accompanied by a photograph of the Commissioner with female officers of every rank and role.

Internal comms

To encourage staff to support and participate in the campaign the Met dedicated a section of its intranet to it – creating a 'story wall' where members of staff could share stories of ‘strong women’ past and present. This helped to promote internal support as well as generating potential stories for wider coverage.

Social engagement

In terms of digital channels, Facebook and Instagram were used for interactive content, with LinkedIn used to showcase opportunities for women in the Met, and Twitter as a platform to interact with campaign partners and for news stories.

A social calendar with a broad weekly pattern was designed to feed users with regular content, with #ThrowbackThursday devoted to historical content, Fridays used to promote current female officers, and Saturdays for content such as quizzes and polls.

Reactive comms

The Met’s comms team also used opportunities to highlight women in policing. When some critics claimed it was unrealistic for BBC TV series The Bodyguard to have so many senior female officers, the Met made deputy assistant commissioner Lucy D’Orsi available for interview to speak about her role as a senior counter-terrorism officer.

In addition, the Met contacted Disney and managed to arrange for a number of female officers to attend the premiere of Captain Marvel in February 2019, where guests watched a short campaign video to promote the role of women in policing.

Proactive

The Met’s comms team also offered unique opportunities to the media, such as including ‘behind-the-scenes’ access to the stables of its mounted branch, and forensic officers in laboratories.

To help sustain interest in the campaign, it employed a raft of case studies of women police officers past and present.

And it broadened its media reach by targeting specialist, BAME and trade media, as well as women-focused outlets such as Woman’s Weekly for a Mother’s Day piece.

The Met’s archives were also used to provide campaign resources, and there was a focus on activities tagged to dates of historical significance to maintain momentum and awareness.

For example, female officers past and present took part in a march to celebrate International Women’s Day in March 2019 - an event which secured coverage on the front page of the Weekend Financial Times.

Historic moment

The centenary culminated in a celebratory service in Westminster Abbey last May, 100 years on from a service of remembrance to Met police officers killed in World War I.

This also marked 100 years since female police officers were allowed to appear in uniform, so before the Westminster Abbey service the Met’s comms team recreated a historic image with serving women officers in replica uniforms.

Recognition

Delivered in-house, with a budget of £13,000 for branding and materials, the campaign won the Public Sector, Value for Money Award in the in-house category at the PRCA National Awards in 2019.

Boost

Despite Cressida Dick making history in becoming the Met’s first female commissioner in 2017, less than a third of the force’s officers are female.

However, during the campaign, applications by women to join the police almost quadrupled compared to the same period the previous year, up from 2,298 to 7,055.

In addition to widespread media coverage, the campaign resulted in strong levels of social engagement.

Posting themed content on the same day weekly allowed the Met’s audience to anticipate content and when to check social media. On Instagram, for instance, likes on its #ThrowbackThursday posts increased from 725 to 1,117.

And the Met’s Instagram following rose from 30,000 to more than 40,000.

The force increased the female audience on all its corporate social platforms – most markedly on Twitter, where its proportion of female followers rose from 41 to 58 per cent between June 2018 and June 2019.

Overall followers increased from 189,999 to 215,000 on Facebook over this time, while the Met’s Twitter following rose from 1.2m to 1.22m.

Stephanie Day, head of campaigns and marketing at the Met’s directorate of media and communication, said: “This was a joyous campaign to work on – the inspiring stories of female officers over the years and today told themselves, and we had an overwhelmingly positive response to the campaign.”

She added: “Media and staff alike reacted with warmth and appreciation. The positive impact of '100 Years Strong' will be felt for many years to come.”




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