Brampton Mayor’s message cuts through the pandemic media rush

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown’s warning that residents who defy Public Health orders would face fines up to $100,000 has reached over 1.5 million views on social media. The video clip was viewed over 500,000 times within the first 24 hours of being released and has been commented on by thousands of Canadians across Brampton and Canada.

Fazal Khan, Project Manager for Neighbourhood Watch Brampton says that he “knew the video would do well, but not that well.” He says that “it is difficult for a well-done community type public service video message to get 5,000 unpaid views in a city with the demographics of Brampton.” The Mayor’s message reached 5,000 views in its first hour.

Khan says that “the reach of the Mayor’s message is even more impressive considering our city’s lack of media coverage and that politicians at higher levels of government are getting national attention with daily COVID-19 press briefings that are broadcast and livestreamed almost endlessly. We know a good message when we see it and are proud to have helped get it out and encourage Bramptonians and Canadians to #StayHome through our online distribution channels.”

The video clip was taken from the City of Brampton’s live video feed of a media briefing held on April 1st with Mayor Brown and Councillor Rowena Santos. Mayor Brown started the briefing with the statement in the clip and then announced rent relief for non-profit tenants in city facilities.

This is the third viral video that Brampton Focus has been involved with. On September 6th 2017, Brampton Focus recorded a meet and greet with NDP Leadership Candidate Jagmeet Singh at Professors Lake where he calmly and professionally handled a heckling protester. That video was seen worldwide with over 150 million social media views and shared through dozens of media outlets including CBC, CTV and BBC. It was also featured on an episode of CNN’s United Shades of America. The second viral video was a Peel Police Ramadaan Mubarak message to Muslims in Peel that reached over 250,000 views across the world in May 2019.

The messaging in videos that do well are clear, concise, direct, confident and natural. Messaging must engage conversation and be shareable by individuals. Corporate, small business or political leaders could take a lesson on being authentic in front of the public. Long and rambling messages to audiences that are on the other side of a wireless connection are ineffective. People live on their smart phones and the window of opportunity to relay a message is very short. Your audience can easily swipe you away.

There is no “winning” formula on how to make a viral video. During this pandemic, messaging is paramount to maintain public confidence and order. This messaging is lacking from many government and public health agencies across the country. Health officials at all levels have repeated that social distancing and washing your hands is essential yet offer little advice on what to do if you are infected, leading to misinformation and confusion.

So-called cures and home made remedies are cropping up across the internet to battle COVID-19 that are both ineffective and dangerous. It’s critical for local and regional health officials to be front and center and accessible during this pandemic and offer more than just standard talking points. Here in Peel Region the distribution channel for public health information is still mixed with garbage collection information. It is still not too late for the communications staff at the Region and within each city to establish a dedicated Peel Public Health Twitter account. Residents deserve more than the standard regurgitated message from Health officials to deal with this pandemic. Truth is always the best policy. It will save lives.