Monday, October 27, 2014

3 Ways PIOs Can Commit to Staying Relevant

Besides from helping organizations plan and manage their way out of crises and communicate effectively with their audiences, a big part of what I do is education. Whether it’s through speaking engagements, delivering workshops and trainings or through crisis simulations, educating professionals to better understand today’s crisis realities, the expectations of their audiences and how to leverage the right technologies and tools to save lives and better communicate in an emergency, is part of what I consider my most important work.

Melissa Agnes leading a discussion about crisis communications
Why? Because it’s all about education, understanding and strengthening skills. The expectations of your audiences in a crisis continue to evolve, as does social media and technology. For those who have not yet embraced today’s realities, challenges and opportunities, their education - and hopefully inspiring an “ah-ha” moment - is absolutely critical. For those who have, their continued education is absolutely critical if they want to continue to excel and meet today’s ever-evolving challenges, as well as continue to take advantage of the numerous opportunities.

As such, I believe in and agree with Tom’s mission with PIO Chronicles: To provide relevant information and helpful insights to the PIO and emergency management community. But Tom and others like him can only go so far. It’s your dedication to continual education that will enable you to continue to be the best PIO you can be.

The PIOs commitment to staying relevant

PIOs have such an important role in crisis and emergency management and as their tasks continue to evolve, so must their understanding, planning and skills. So how can you commit to this continued education - for both yourself and the different members of your teams and partners?

Here are some considerations: 
Commit yourself to staying up on the latest trends, apps and technology.  Opportunity is everywhere, you just have to spot it. The trick to spotting it is to keep abreast of:

  • Who your audiences are; and
  • Where / how they prefer to receive their information.

A great example is BBC’s new WhatsApp strategy for delivering timely, helpful and informative updates to West Africans on Ebola.

The WhatsApp logo
WhatsApp is the most commonly used “chat app” in Africa. Therefore, why shouldn't it be used as a form of communication during this major and escalating crisis?

By understanding who your target audiences are and the apps, tools and technology they use regularly, you will enable yourself and your team to strategize efficient and effective communication possibilities in an emergency.

Note: This is a continual challenge, and something that should be part of your daily thoughts and considerations prior to experiencing an emergency.

Continue to challenge yourself 
Continuing to challenge yourself is a dedication to continued self-growth and education. It’s also the mark of great PIO. Here are some ways to facilitate this task:

  • Subscribe to the right blogs
  • Listen to the right podcasts
  • Read the right books
  • Keep up-to-speed on the latest emergency events and case studies taking place around the world
  • Continue to build your network and connect with great minds

Study up on the latest trends and tools
Just when you think you know everything there is to know, you’ll realize that you don’t. Having an outlook that embraces change, evolution and self-education, as well as continually trying to surround yourself with people who know more and have different experiences than you, will not only keep you on your toes, but keep you passionate. Passion is not only inspiring, but is the route to continued success

Go beyond your own education to better do your job 
Your own continued education is the first step. But you also have to make sure that the rest of your team understands both today’s crisis realities and your challenges and tasks, if you’re going to continue to grow and work together efficiently.

As a PIO, communication is a skill and an asset. However, it’s not just about external communication or emergency communication. The more regularly you communicate with your team and keep them in the loop of the realities and challenges you face as a PIO, the better and more efficiently you will be able to work together. Not to mention learn from one another and grow as a stronger team.

Melissa Agnes
President and Co-Founder
Agnes + Day 

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