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?
I'll be a co-panelist alongside some highly experienced communicators discussing how to set your agency's narrative on-line.
Give us an overview of your role and what it entails on a daily basis
I oversee all of the external and internal communications that occur about GBI services. This includes media affairs and social media management. I'm also the legislative liaison for the GBI, acting as a liaison for our Governor's Office and the Georgia legislature. In this government affairs function, I am responsible for overseeing agency bills that move through the legislative process and constituent concerns. My office also oversees our community outreach efforts.
What do you love about about your job?
Helping people. Whether it be getting the right answers to people who are concerned about their safety, helping to resolve a constituent concern, or even exposing a young person to a career in public service, it so rewarding.
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Keeping up with the volume of work that comes in every day. We all know that in this profession there are no days off, but I have to take time for myself. Too often the times that I am trying to step away, some major event happens. So...having the bandwidth to address everyone's needs is a daily challenge.
What are some of the more memorable events you’ve had to deal with in your role and what lessons did you learn?
The event that had the most significant impact early on was the on scene communications response that I was involved with after two local South GA police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2016. I learned how important it was to have the community's support in getting information in and out. One of the big lessons that I learned was how important it was to have strong PIO relationships. Those fellow communicators that I worked with on the scene are still good friends today. Oh....I also learned how important it was to use social media to tell your story.
What is it about communications, media or crisis comms that interests you so much?
Where do I begin? I'm fascinated by how much this line of work has evolved over time. The endless technology options interests me from the various platforms that are out there to monitoring tools to countless apps. I think it is very neat that with over 16,000 law enforcement agencies in the country, we each have our specific way that we get that message out. No two agencies can do it exactly the same yet we each understand the plight that we face in crisis to share good, timely information.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about being a PIO?
100% that it's just a glamorous job. One where we just sit on social media all day and look at pictures and take pictures. You cannot possibly imagine this grind unless you're in it.
One piece of advice for those wanting to start a career as a Public Information Officer or comms professional
Network & train. Sorry I know that's two, but they are too important for me not to mention.
What's your top tip or piece of advice regarding social media engagement in public safety?
My top tip is to answer legitimate questions. Do not ignore your followers and just send information out. It should be a two-way conversation.
What are your favorite tools you use to do your job more effectively?
TRELLO! I love this task management tool for my team. I'm not even sure how I survived before Trello. Of course as far as apps go, CANVA is super helpful for me as a non graphic artist. I also love my ring lights and wireless mics.
Are there any books, podcasts or any other resources you would recommend for the comms pro?
I highly recommend Robert Tornabene's PIO Podcast. I've listened to every episode, some episodes multiple times. The best part is that being a busy communicator, wife, and mom, I can learn and do other things like driving and household chores at the same time. Cannot beat it!
What would you say to anyone in a leadership role about having a PIO who might not have one?
Well, as a PIO, I clearly have a biased view, but I believe that effective PIOs are force-multipliers for law enforcement agencies. They effectively manage critical incidents, amplify the good work of other officers, improve public perception of an agency, and are invaluable in combatting misinformation and rumors which can potentially hurt high-profile cases.