As part of the Social Media Strategies Summit for First Responders, we're highlighting the amazing speakers taking part in this two day virtual event. The event runs May 9 - 12 and features a wide-range of compelling sessions.
What is your session for SMSS about?
Humanizing Your Agency Through Social Content
Give us an overview of your role and what it entails on a daily basis
I am a Communications & Marketing Coordinator for the City of Sioux Falls in South Dakota. Like most, my days consist of a lot of day-to-day requests for presentations, copy review, press releases and media relations, but I also spend time working on large scale projects such and Fire and Police recruiting strategies, planning groundbreaking events, etc.
What do you love about about your job?
I love the variety of projects that I get to be a part of. One month I might be working on the State of the City address, and another month I'm working on recruiting for the Fire department, and the next month I'm working on internal communication projects. There is never a dull day as a Communications Professional in government.
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
This job is exhausting. Sometimes I think that as communications professionals, we get worried about taking time off because our pile of to-dos can be even bigger than when we left. It's certainly been a learning curve for me. When it comes to communications or marketing in the private sector, you can usually set things on autopilot after launching a campaign or project and relax. In the public sector, there is always a resident that needs help, or another project to be done in order to improve the city.
What are some of the more memorable events you’ve had to deal with in your role and what lessons did you learn?
Boy, where do I begin!? We have dealt with tornadoes, civil unrest, and like everyone else the past few years, a global pandemic. I would say the main lesson I've learned through incident or project is that nobody is "right". Everybody has a different opinion and everyone's brain works differently. Continue to lift up the people around you, communicate often, and remember that no idea is a dumb idea.
What is it about communications, media or crisis comms that interests you so much?
I enjoy being able to help disseminate information in a clear manner for both residents and employees, and It feels good to be a voice of reason in a situation where others may be worried or frustrated. This role is truly about customer service and experience, and building trust with your audience. I also deeply appreciate the relationships I've built over the years in my role.
One piece of advice for those wanting to start a career as a Public Information Officer or comms professional
1. Make sure your values align with the agency you want to work for. 2. Assume the best; be ready for the worst. 3. And lastly, and most importantly, please take care of yourself and prioritize your mental health. (Boundaries!!!!)
What's your top tip or piece of advice regarding social media engagement in public safety?
Trial and error, my friends! Good things take time. You got this.
What are your favorite tools you use to do your job more effectively?
I love doing after-action meetings when a big event or project concludes. Everything is cyclical, right? It's important to have data and notes from prior experiences to continually improve policies and processes for the next time the project comes around.
What would you say to anyone in a leadership role about having a PIO who might not have one?
You won't regret having a PIO, but you might regret not having one.