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Local fire departments' social media campaign a hit – Mitchell Advocate



A social media campaign involving James Marshall (left) and chief Bill Hunter of the West Perth and Perth East fire departments, along with Stewart Reynolds (also known as Brittlestar), has generated a lot of buzz – which was its intention, after all. SUBMITTED

Finding unique, fun ways to spread an important message was the main reason the West Perth and Perth East fire departments created what turned out to be an effective social media safety campaign the past few weeks.

And they relied on a Perth County native son to help put it all together.

Fire Prevention Officer James Marshall, along with Fire chief Bill Hunter and public educator Jess Jorritsma, began “spitballing” ideas with various members of their respective fire stations (West Perth has one station in Mitchell, while Perth East has three located in Sebringville, Milverton and Shakespeare) earlier this year. They were looking for a different way to spread fire safety messages because, after all, Marshall says he’s done hundreds of voice-over commercials during his career and he was, quite frankly, sick of doing them.

Stratford native Stewart Reynolds, known as Brittlestar, was hired for his expertise in social media content to create professional, serious messages but in a fun manner.

“I think it’s really important that people realize that this is a very serious message but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it,” Reynolds said. “It’s kind of a ‘wink and nod’ quality to what we put together. People realize that this is ridiculous and silly and we all know how important it is, but this is just a reminder to everyone … “

Their short videos and photo sessions featured safe cooking in the kitchen; a reminder to use “stupid” daylight savings time to not only change your clocks but also change your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm batteries; pull over for emergency vehicles (tied in with a not-so-subtle message of wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic) and a message about having CO alarms on every floor of your home which happened to coincide with election day in the U.S. – and ketchup potato chips. (We’ll get to that). All of the posts became popular over social media, especially on Twitter and Facebook, which acted as way to boost traffic and attract followers to the fire department’s newly-developed Facebook page, too, Marshall notes.

Marshall said they’re receiving a lot of comments from people that said a particular safety message struck home, or really made them think, which is clearly the point of it all.

Reynolds explained the majority of his home-based company’s income – which has been ongoing full-time since 2013 – is from tying in his own original content with branded content, so when PEFD/WPFD asked him to tailor the message to his appealing style, he took the ball and ran with it.

“I think what’s great about what we created is the message applies everywhere,” Reynolds said, with Marshall adding they specifically created these messages in a generic manner for use literally all over the world.

“We like it that it’s timeless and anybody can use these if they need them,” Marshall said.

Comments have come in from Australia, Alabama, California and all over North America, with Marshall saying the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has also taken note.

“It is getting noted in the emergency service world,” he said, saying the NFPA wants to use the material as an example on how to use social media, “which is pretty cool.”

One of the fun photo shoots, which coincided with the U.S. election the first week of November, involved the presence of Lays brand ketchup chips, a delicacy which isn’t available south of the border. About three years ago, during chaotic times in the U.S., Reynolds made a popular video which turned into a gif of him eating a bag of chips looking out the window at his American “neighbor.” A couple of dozen large bags of ketchup chips were loaded in and on West Perth’s fire tanker truck, complete with the tag line “don’t worry, I’m here and I brought chips!”

“It was a fun project for everyone,” Marshall said. “It’s worked really well. It certainly taught me that I need to learn a lot about social media and trying to get the information out there and make it look good because he [Reynolds] does it seamlessly.

“I think he’s having fun with us, I know there was a big smile on his face when tanker #3 pulled up to his house with 30-some odd bags of chips hidden in every compartment.”

The fire department is thrilled with the response of the short videos and messages they’ve revealed, but Reynolds – who jokingly admits he has a large ego – said he wasn’t surprised it has generated some buzz.

“It goes back to the idea that you can have fun with something that’s a serious topic but you can do it in an entertaining way, because it’s not like people don’t know fire safety and smoke detectors,” he said. “People know that stuff, it’s not like we’re telling them something brand new.”

Marshall agrees the project was a blast to do, and a welcome break from the day-to-day routine.

“I’m not going to pretend I’m cool enough to know all the different platforms that we’re on, and we’re probably 10 years behind, but if it’s getting noticed by parents or if people are talking about it, that’s great,” he said.

“I think we’re in the right direction,” Marshall continued, “the question is what are our next steps going to be to keep our momentum?”

“We don’t mind having fun, it’s a good group to have fun with. And if you can have fun and get the message across and do it in a way that puts a smile on somebody’s face, than to me that’s a win.”

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Snap to cut emissions, achieves carbon neutrality in new climate strategy



Snap Inc on Monday announced a climate strategy to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, purchase 100% renewable energy and remain carbon neutral after offsetting emissions dating back to its launch.

The plan, which the owner of photo messaging app Snapchat detailed in its annual “CitizenSnap” report on social and environmental initiatives, comes as climate change debates include tech companies and the energy-intensive process of running powerful computer data servers has become better known.

By making the company more energy efficient, Snap could not only reduce costs in the long run, but also appeal to its mostly young user base, which is passionate about addressing climate change, said Dom Perella, Snap’s deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer.

“They’re going to be living with the brunt of these impacts for many generations,” he said. “Because it impacts our stakeholders… we want to make a difference.”

By 2025, Snap plans to reduce emissions generated from its business operations by 25%, in part by making its buildings more energy efficient and purchasing renewable energy, Perella said.

The company also aims to reduce emissions from business travel and from purchased goods and services by 35% “per unit of value” by shifting to climate-friendly travel options and pushing vendors to reduce their emissions.

Snap said it determined the reduction levels by working with the Science Based Targets initiative, a coalition that advises companies on reducing emissions to meet goals outlined by the Paris Agreement international treaty on climate change.

The Santa Monica, California-based company said it is now carbon neutral, helped by investing in forestry projects across the world to offset its emissions.

It also calculated its emissions dating back to Snapchat’s launch in 2011 and offset its emissions to become retroactively carbon neutral.

Other tech companies have also moved to offset emissions retroactively. Alphabet Inc’s Google said last year it had eliminated its carbon emissions history before 2007, when the company said it became carbon neutral.


(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Britney Spears calls recent documentaries about her ‘hypocritical’



LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pop singer Britney Spears spoke out on Tuesday about recent documentaries about her life and career, calling them “hypocritical” because they rehash her personal problems while criticizing the media for reporting them the first time.

Walt Disney Co’s FX network and The New York Times released “Framing Britney Spears” in February. The documentary examined the singer’s meteoric rise to fame as a teenager, the ensuing media scrutiny and her widely publicized breakdown.And this month, the BBC released “The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship” in Britain. It will debut in the United States and Canada starting May 11 via the BBC Select streaming service.

In an Instagram post, Spears did not name either documentary but said “so many documentaries about me this year with other people’s takes on my life.”

“These documentaries are so hypocritical … they criticize the media and then do the same thing,” she added.

In March, Spears said she cried for two weeks after watching part of “Framing Britney Spears”.

The BBC said in a statement on Tuesday that its documentary “explores the complexities surrounding conservatorship with care and sensitivity.”

“It does not take sides and features a wide range of contributors,” the statement added.

A New York Times spokesperson declined to comment.

Spears, who shot to fame in 1998 with the hit “Baby One More Time,” is in a court battle seeking to replace her father as her conservator. He was appointed to the role in 2008 after she was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment.

Her fans have shown their support on social media under the hashtags #We’reSorryBritney and #FreeBritney. Spears is scheduled to speak to a Los Angeles court in June.

In her Instagram post, which included a video of herself dancing, Spears said that “although I’ve had some pretty tough times in my life … I’ve had waaaayyyy more amazing times in my life and unfortunately my friends … I think the world is more interested in the negative.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Grammy organizers change rules after allegations of corruption



LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The organizers of music’s Grammy Awards on Friday announced an end to the so-called “secret” committees that have led to allegations that the highest honors in the industry are open to rigging.

The Recording Academy said that nominations for the next Grammy Awards in January 2022 will be selected by all of its more than 11,000 voting members, instead of by committees of 15-30 industry experts whose names were not revealed.

The Academy was slammed last year when Canadian artist The Weeknd got zero Grammy nominations, even though his critically acclaimed album “After Hours” was one of the biggest sellers of 2020.

The Weeknd, in a Twitter post last November, said “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”

The Recording Academy said in a statement on Friday that the changes were significant and were made “to ensure that the Grammy Awards rules and guidelines are transparent and equitable.”

Allegations that the Grammy nominations process is tainted were made in a legal complaint filed in early 2019 by the former chief executive of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan.

At the time, the Academy dismissed as “categorically false, misleading and wrong” Dugan’s claims that its members pushed artists they have relationships with. Dugan was later fired.

American pop star Halsey, also shut out of the 2021 Grammys, last year called the nominations process “elusive” and said she was “hoping for more transparency or reform.”

Former One Direction singer Zayn Malik called in March for an end to “secret committees.”

“I’m keeping the pressure on & fighting for transparency & inclusion. We need to make sure we are honoring and celebrating ‘creative excellence’ of ALL,” Malik tweeted hours ahead of the 2021 Grammy Awards ceremony.

The Recording Academy on Friday also said it was adding two new Grammy categories – for best global music performance, and best Latin urban music album – bringing to 86 the total number of Grammy Awards each year.


(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by David Gregorio)

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