Guns and Hoses

Sunnyvale-Department-of-Public-Safety-Engine-4We love return business but having this particular client call us to update the recruiting video we had originally produced for them in 1999 was especially sweet. The City of Sunnyvale’s Department of Public Safety recruiting video was in need of an extreme makeover. You see the Tam team has a particular passion for those that dedicate themselves to public service. Consider our Coast Guard Channel website; our Coast Guard docu-series, which ran for three seasons in syndication; our Discovery Health mini-series “Lifeguard Rescues”; our “Paramedics 10-97!” one-off for the Discovery Channel; and “Coast Guard at War” for the Military Channel…you get the picture. Maybe the fact that our co-founder, Tam O’Connor Fraser, and myself both worked in the emergency medical field colors our view.

But we had seen that over the last decade, public safety budgets had been slashed to bare minimums and hiring was reduced or stopped altogether. But with the economic recovery, those budgets and hiring are growing again.

According to Chief Frank Grgurina, “Currently, public safety agencies up and down the state are hiring and many are hiring in large numbers. Public safety recruitment and hiring has once again become a very competitive market with each agency striving to attract the most highly qualified individuals.”

Sunnyvale-Department-of-Public-Safety-Motorcycle-CopsHe continues, “In Sunnyvale, we are challenged in finding uniquely highly qualified individuals who understand and are able to fulfill the role of a cross-trained public safety officer (police-fire-ems) within our fully integrated department. We also recognized that a large number of our current officers were eligible to retire within the next several years, requiring us to hire large numbers of new officers.”

We had produced Sunnyvale’s last recruiting video in 1999 and it was a very effective recruiting tool even when the primary means of distribution was in-person job fairs. Fifteen years later, the Internet is all the rage (go figure) and widely distributed video content makes spreading the word easier than ever.

“Sunnyvale DPS had utilized Tam Communications in the past during a similar hiring pattern to produce a department recruitment video and was very happy with the final product,” noted Chief Grgurina. “In our initial meeting with Tam Communications, it was clear that they could deliver a professional recruitment video that captured the unique service model and culture of our organization. We also asked that the video be shortened so that it could easily be pushed out via various social media platforms.”

Confining the content and message into the two minutes we all shoot for (no pun intended) in the YouTube World, would prove to be the most difficult. How do you do condense essentially the same message to two minutes? Some times you can’t.

Thus we had our opportunity (YouTube and other web distribution) and our challenge (essentially the same content/in less than a quarter of the time).

Sunnyvale-Department-of-Public-Safety-Tam-ShootingWe spent five full days in production capturing green screen interviews, a ride along on a night shift patrol, a day with an engine company, training exercises and so on. With my EMS, it was energizing to be on production, surrounded by the fast-paced and high-intensity that naturally occurs when you’e in the field. And true to my experience, we had back-to-back fire calls on our what was to be only a couple of hours of shooting with the engine company. Yea, right. I seem to attract that kind of “fun”.

Once we went into post-production we found that cutting all the great interviews and footage we had, along with adding in narration, down to 2.5 minutes was going to be more than just challenging. The first cut was about 6 minutes, by the second cut and some hard edits (leaving amazing sound bites on the “cutting room floor”), we were able to get the final video down to 4.5 minutes. Command Staff’s view…if someone isn’t interested enough to spend 4.5 minutes watching our video, they probably aren’t as committed as the City of Sunnyvale Public Safety Department demands–because they do demand a lot, but for those that make the commitment the rewards are huge.

In describing his experience with us, the chief says “Tam Communications formulated a script and agenda that fulfilled our requests and spent extra efforts in obtaining footage that would clearly paint the picture we were striving for in the recruitment video. The final product was nothing less than spectacular. We have received numerous compliments from applicants, members of the community and other organizations. However, as with most organizations, the biggest critics come from within. I am pleased to say that the members of our department are proud of the final product”.