You gotta hate surprises
At least, you have to hate the wrong kind of surprises.
When an incident happens that might affect your agency or its response, the sooner you know, the better. While it might not always be possible to be first, you might be one of the first if you follow a few simple guidelines:
1. Build a network
When a fire erupted at a former processing plant south of Salt Lake City, the city PIO and social media manager was in touch briefly with the city’s fire department and was told everything was under control. As the fire progressed, the fire department decided that some local evacuations would be necessary but didn’t inform the city PIO. It was a county PIO, who had been following the incident on local news, who called the city PIO and had the following conversation:
County PIO: What’s going on with your fire?
City PIO: Everything is under control.
County PIO: I don’t think so. They are evacuating the neighborhoods around the fire.
Fortunately, the city and county PIO had a great relationship or the city PIO may have found out too late about evacuations happening in her own city.
Take the time to build a network of PIOs. Meet someone new.
It takes some getting used to, but sharing important information with your network will help create a culture of sharing.
Others will remember to loop you in because they appreciated the times you remembered to include them. Great things will happen.
And you never have to be concerned about being over informed. You always have that delete button.
3. Have a meeting
Someone needs to wave the banner to rally PIOs in your area. Is it you? Can you support, really support, another PIO’s efforts.
It usually starts with a meeting. Do you have an exercise coming up? A major sporting event? The potential of severe weather?
Call a few people and start the first meeting. Asking the following question at your first meeting will make having the next one is easy: “Who should be here with us?”
We hope these tips help you avoid surprises. Question for you now: How do you avoid surprises?