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Polk County Fire #1 combines guerrilla marketing with online tools

Posted by Sloane Dell'Orto | May 18, 2020

One of our favorite customers (ok, you’re all our faves, of course) reached out with an amazing guerrilla marketing story:

Fire chief Ben Stange of Polk County Fire #1 decided to purchase a few hundred yard signs for his community that read, “Stay Home. Save Lives.” He knew this was a chance for his department to stay visible and connect with the community during a time when people were feeling really isolated. But how to distribute them during Oregon’s stay at home order?

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Chief Stange received the yard signs Friday evening, and by Saturday morning he had hatched a plan: he would add a signup form to the district website, so people could request a sign and submit their address. Firefighters would be standing by, each covering different parts of the community, ready to install the signs once requested.

Simple, yet effective. In just a few steps, Ben and his team made smart use of online tools like Streamline, Google Maps and Facebook to create a visible campaign that engaged and helped the members of the community.

“It took no time for me to create the form on our Streamline website,” Ben told us. “It was on a Saturday morning as I was eating a waffle. I added the page at nine, then added a post to social media announcing the program. We had half a dozen requests within 10 minutes.”

Signup form submissions instantly appeared in Chief Stange’s email box, and with the click of a button he would add each to the custom Google Maps list he created. Polk County firefighters, who also had access to the list and were already staged in the community, would then head to each new address. Within minutes, the happy resident was sporting a new yard sign.

The campaign worked so well, he had to halt it before the day was over because they ran out of signs.

“It turned out super slick,” Ben said. “I've been involved in several yard sign campaigns, never have I seen something like that.”

“We try to focus on messages like, ‘We're sorry you're stuck at home, but also — if you ever feel unsafe, you can always call 911,’” Ben told us. “[It’s] more of an opportunity to get messages like that out. We shield it with education and fun, but really, the underlying point is, we're trying to make sure we're getting those types of messages across.”

“I'm happy to share how we did it and how successful it was for our community,” Ben adds, “because I'm still getting requests for signs.”

If you have an inspiring story to share, we’d love to hear it! We will also help promote it here on our blog and on social media, as well as in our new online forum for special districts. (If you haven’t joined yet, you can do so here: tribes.getstreamline.com.)

We’re here to help!

Still trying to figure this COVID-19 thing out? We’re here to help! If you have questions about managing your special district website, intranet, remote meetings, social media, or other online resources, just let us know! Helping Special Districts Communicate During a Crisis is a great place to start.

Topics: Social media, Websites, Crisis communication

Written by Sloane Dell'Orto

Sloane is the founder of Streamline and the COO of its parent company, Digital Deployment