Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Keeping in touch

Yesterday's post was all about us knowing when there's a shout, its a pretty vital part of the setup of the station, its not much use having a lifeboat if you don't know when its needed!

Nearly as important is letting people know when the lifeboat is (or has been) in action. All our funding comes from voluntary contributions and if we don't let people know when our lifeboat(s) have been out their interest in the station and the RNLI may start to dwindle. I remember a time 6 or 7 years ago when we totally ran out of maroons, there was a problem with the manufacturer by all accounts. It was one of our busiest summers but people would say "You've been quiet, we haven't heard the maroons for ages". It was around this sort of time that I set up the first version of our website, it was something that interested me and I thought it might be a good way to let people know what was happening at the station. So was born. The site has gone through various changes over the years, this year we've had 145,000 page loads which I'm pretty pleased with. For those of you haven't visited lately why not take a look. Why not subscribe to our 'Latest Launch' email service and be one of the 500 or so people that we email every time we have a shout.

A year or so later Steve Williams and I put our heads together and we decided that it would be a good idea to get some 'Latest Launch' posters out and about in the town. Perhaps in some of the pubs and shops but definately in the Lifeboat shop and in the notice board at the station. Steve now generates a poster for every launch and these are distributed to various people through the website, if you'd like to get one to display at your office, shop or local pub then just sign up online in the Rescues Posters section. Steve's old firm, Marconi, were also generous enough to buy us a colour printer to print the posters. This was made even better when Steve managed to persuade a guy from Olympus to donate us a digital camera complete with waterproof housing! Its a great camera and quite a few of the 'Rescue' pics that you see are taken with it. Its great when I spot people reading the posters, you know its worth the time and effort to do it.

If we're invloved in a big newsworthy incident such as the one on Mayday last year then the RNLI's Press Office will kick in to help us. Becky Mack is our LPO (Lifeboat Press Officer) she is the station's point of contact for the press, she is then backed up by our Divisional Media Relations Manager, Tamsin Thomas and the Press Office at RNLI HQ in Poole. There is a Press Officer on duty 24/7, its vital in these days of 24hr news that we can get our message out quickly, accurately and if possible with either still or moving images.

The next weapon in our PR arsenal is something that I'd been thinking about for ages but had never really been able to figure out how to get it to work. Text message alerts to people's mobile phones when our lifeboats launch. In September 2006 I stumbled across a firm called iTagg who provide a premium rate bulk text messaging service with no monthly charge, no limit on how many messages you could send but equally as important if you didn't send any messages at all for 3 months it didn't matter. I signed us up and our text alert service was born! Basically we earn 10p commision for each message that's sent, messages cost the user 25p the 15p difference is how iTagg make their money, it is possible to make a higher percentage but that means paying a monthly fee and as we don't know when our next shout is going to be I didn't think it was worth it. Messages are sent automatically when our pagers go off but are subject to a delay of 5 mins, we don't want the public to arrive at the station before the crew! If you'd like to sign up then text the following from your mobile phone.


to 60300

You'll get a confirmation message back pretty much straight away . . then all you need to do is wait for the next shout!

In the summer of this year the RNLI launched its desktop pager. It give people the chance to become a 'virtual crewmember' for any or all the RNLI lifeboat stations around the country. To quote from the RNLI's website.

  • Be notified of RNLI lifeboat launches as they happen.
  • The desktop pager launches and beeps when we have been notified of a launch.
  • Keep informed of the latest launches.
  • Choose to monitor all stations or selected stations.
  • Includes an information banner telling you of latest RNLI information.
and last but not least I couldn't leave out John's blog could I! There is something very satisfying about putting information online and then finding out that people are actually enjoying reading it. I remember when John first got the blog going and how pleased he was when people started reading, commenting and coming backing for more. I can't quite believe that was over a year ago! At our AGM recently Martin, our Coxswain said "If you want to know what's going on at our station then have a look at our website, if you really want to know what's going on then read John's blog!"

No comment :o)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much. I'm very interested in what's going, so it's great that you're all mkaing such an effort to keep us up to date.

And thanks for lookign after the blog while John was away.