How many Christmas transports resulted from red rider bb guns? How many transports due to bad eggnog?
What unique thing does your agency do to celebrate the holidays?
The key to creating a good “Christmas Story” for your ambulance service is to pull together two key images in to one story.
Image one is something intuitive that everyone knows is connected to the holiday. This could be something with Santa, Christmas lights or menorahs, or wrapped presents.
Image two is something unique to your agency or industry. For example, using the actual ambulance, crews in uniform, or a gurney is a visual that you can provide that a retail store of office cannot.
Now you need to do an image mash-up. How do you combine an iconic holiday image with something uniquely ambulance? Once you figure that out, the images will create an excellent potential media story or event.
Want an example? Let’s say your agency is collecting presents for needy kids or food for the hungry. Rather than having a box in your office like just about every company on the planet this time of year, collect them in the back of the ambulance and invite media to be present as you deliver them. Unloading the ambulance full of toys or food creates a great visual- and for media to report the story the ambulance is essential to be included—giving your agency some extra positive publicity.
Another example: Do you have data from past years of what types of holiday related accidents or calls are most common? Media love statistics, so share the numbers along with some safety tips provided by a Paramedic in front of an ambulance at a media event.
Looking for yet another example? Then let me share a story that still makes me feel good years later.
Several years in a row I had a Christmas date with a local TV news videographer. After a few years of our “dates” she told me that she requests to work on Christmas, knowing that we’d spend it together. I even invited my wife to join us, my young kids, even my parents came along one year.
Wondering where my story is going? While serving as PIO of an ambulance company, I introduced a program called “Home for the Holidays” where we would transport a sick child or elderly parent from a hospital or care facility to the home of family members for a few hours so they could spend the holiday together. We’d then invite a local TV station along for the ride. It’s a story only an ambulance agency could create, and it “mashed-up” a holiday image with the ambulance and crew image perfectly.
While creating a newsworthy “Christmas Story” was the initial impetus for the event, the true power of the yearly even hit me one year around February. I received a card from the daughter of a woman we transported who wanted to thank me one last time. Her mother died the day before, and she wanted to make sure I knew how grateful she was that she’ll always remember their last Christmas together.
Another special memory came several years later where we transported a young Spanish-only speaking child with cancer home on Christmas for a few hours. I vividly recall her young cousins gathering around her gurney and the girl reaching out to grab the arm or hand of anyone she could reach. When the cousin she grabbed got uncomfortable and squirmed away, she’d simply grab the next person she could. The relationship we build with her and her family led us to do a few additional transports for her before she eventually succumbed to the cancer.
As ambulance providers, your agency has the opportunity to create its own Christmas story. Any story worth retelling, means there was a media opportunity as well.
Note: A variation of this post also appears in my “PR Medic” column at www.ems1.com