The Washington State Patrol’s recruiting campaign was running seriously behind its goal of attracting new applicants. They have one of the best training academies in the world, but pay less than other comparable careers. They asked us to increase the number of potential recruits applying on their website. They specified that they wanted billboards, radio and Pandora commercials. They wanted an emphasis put on targeting women and minorities in particular, and the research indicated their best candidates were millennials. The first thing we had to point out is that millennials don’t trust traditional advertising.
Our solution was to have millennial troopers tell their own story—the story of the day they changed someone’s life. This was content their audience would want to consume—a story about someone just like them. We screened troopers over the phone and then interviewed a select few at a local recording studio. In piecing together the interviews, we found some heartwarming and heartbreaking stories. We frequently left in “um,” “uh,” pauses and other things you typically hear in natural speech, for a more authentic sound.
After reviewing the seven commercials we delivered, WSP revised just one word, then put all the stories and transcripts on their landing page, Trooper Stories.com. The campaign quickly earned over 25,000 visits. The initial response was so positive that they expanded the campaign, ordering display ads on the Seattle Seahawks website, which generated over 6,000 clicks. And then they doubled the media buy. The academy’s first class filled quickly, they commissioned 23 officers, and they plan to re-run the campaign to fill the next class of recruits.