How do you get a city to listen? Article icon

How

How do you get people to listen to your message? For Ambulance Victoria, the largest emergency healthcare provider in the Australian state, it chose to share the potential horrors of an uncontrolled pandemic on learning that Victorians had started to flout restrictions believing that the worst was over.

Victoria may be the second smallest state in Australia, but it is home to one quarter of the country’s population. It has also been subject to longer, harsher lockdown measures than any other state. Indeed, the first confirmed case in Australia was identified in Victoria on 25 January 2020, and Victoria – in common with the rest of the country – went into lockdown.

Ambulance Victoria is the largest emergency healthcare provider in the state and is viewed as a trusted voice in a crisis. Its stated ethos is to communicate with the public with authentic messages of stability, resilience and optimism.

When the first wave – and lockdown – came, it was uncharted territory for Ambulance Victoria. But the service sought to keep its communications relevant and engaging by continually assessing what Victorians wanted to know, what they needed to know and how they were feeling.

By April 2020, however, stories began to circulate that people were flouting lockdown and Covid cases started to tick up. While local residents appeared to believe that the worst was over, the reality was somewhat different and the health service had to work quickly to change the overriding perception.

While Ambulance Victoria’s preference is to communicate calmly, it felt the situation required a change of tack. There was no place for complacency. It decided to use its platform to provide a reminder of the potential horrors of an uncontrolled pandemic and remind the public of what was at stake.

Its three-pronged campaign Are You Listening? involved sombre reminders.

The first prong pointed to the experiences of London and New York and involved an animation with a compelling soundscape to evoke their iconic skylines, morphing between each one before reaching the Melbourne skyline. While being respectful of the hardships being suffered by these cities, the campaign asked the question: If these cities could speak, what would they say? Maybe they’d just ask us to listen.

The second video Are you doing enough? demonstrated the amount of PPE that its paramedics had to don in order to protect themselves. If this was what paramedics thought was appropriate, were Victorians being careful enough?

The final video It’s not over yet demonstrates the impact of the virus seen through the eyes of a patient in the back of an ambulance. Viewers hear the patient struggling to breathe and watch as the paramedics work to stabilise them for the journey to hospital.

Ambulance Victoria set targets for each post, hoping they would receive around 40,000 views and perhaps 100 shares. In general, it views a post to be successful if it reaches between 25,000 and 35,000 people.

Ultimately, each video exceeded all expectations, achieving more than 55,000 visitors apiece on Ambulance Victoria’s Facebook page, which has 80,000 followers. Are you listening reached 149,000 people, encouraging 12,000 engagements and 1,000 shares while Are you doing enough reached 93,000 people and 530 shares.