How to be your own PIO
Welcome to Public Information, a monthly column in which I will try, likely with varying results, to impart the many processes I’ve developed over 10 years as a working writer, editor, print and web designer, photographer and public information officer. We’re going to discuss proven strategies for getting your information out there, and interesting ways to make sure the story being told about your community is the one you want.
In addition to that tactical knowledge, I’m also going to try and give you an inside view into how things work in newsrooms (hectic at best, chaos normally), and how I feel they should work in government (more transparency, less “government speak”).
First, let me get something out of the way: I am a working professional, not an “authority,” if such a thing could ever exist in this rapidly evolving media environment. I have a rule of thumb: If someone touts their own expertise, you should go looking elsewhere for the answers you seek.
By that I mean I’ve found expertise is better exercised than recognized. Don’t be afraid to try new things and find what works for you and your community. Let others worry about whether that makes you an expert or charlatan.
In the end, what you want is results, and the only way to get them is to know your community, apply what makes sense and measure the outcomes to make sure you’re smartly expending precious resources.
This is especially true in the Brave New World of traditional and social media. The telescoping nature of technology in culture means change is now occurring at a faster pace than a traditional organization can hope to reasonably react. In the last five years alone we’ve seen giant Internet companies come and go, start-ups younger than school children make billions and high-profile media empires turn to ash virtually overnight.
In this tornado, the solution I’ve found is to combine the best options of our high-tech world (free to low-cost distribution of information via social networks and e-mail distribution) with trusted, high-touch practices (in-person relationship building and old-fashioned, community-based outreach).
Each month I’ll discuss how to do it, and topics will include how to: write for today’s media: produce photographs that tell stories; establish a social media brand and tone; design documents and publications that won’t put residents to sleep; and much, much more.
I sincerely hope you’ll find value in what I can provide.