Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Capture those memories

When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school ...               - Paul Simon, Kodachrome
In addition to being a journalism teacher, my wife also has the honor of serving as her high school's advisor for the yearbook, which usually means she spends her time keeping her eyes out for big events that her students should probably be covering. Football games. Clubs and organizations. Academic achievement.

Ahh, the good old days of laying out yearbooks before computers...
Why? Well, until someone develops time travel, it's going to be difficult for the young yearbookers to recreate shots of events which happened eight or nine months earlier. So, she has to encourage her charges to get out and do their work now before that incredible game, play or achievement is a footnote that few will remember nine months from now during graduation.

As public information officers, we should take a page out of the playbooks from my wife and all of the other yearbook advisors out there - it is critical to capture the memories of important moments we experienced while we are doing our jobs. Think about it for a moment - your job is a busy one. You move from event to event quickly, barely giving a second thought to what we are doing, especially in the heat of a real-life event.

The reporters are there. The situation is evolving. You are needed to get the right information to the right people at the right time so they can make the right decision to save lives and property.

At the end of a busy day doing that, you are beat, and there's a high likelihood that you will just want to go home, grab a bite to eat and catch some sleep. That's important.

Write your thoughts down - digitally or in analog form
But, as you get to a point where you have a little down time, take a few moments to write down the lessons you learned from that day's work. What were the successes? Where did you fail? What was that pithy quote you gave - or thought of once the reporter walked away? This is known as a hot wash, and believe me, the folks working in operations do this all the time. Get those thoughts down in writing, too. Believe me, once a few days go by, you will forget the details.

Another reason why my wife enjoys doing the yearbook is that she gets to play a part in telling the history of her school for many years to come. Future yearbook advisors may look back through the archives, see something she did and incorporate those ideas into yearbooks to come. Maybe even a rival school might consider adopting one of her ideas if they think it's a particularly good one.

Working logistics in New York City post Sandy
That's the second reason why you should be documenting what you do - so other people might learn from your hard-earned lessons. Why did I document my trip to Charlotte County after Hurricane Charley passed? Why did I put together a blog to do daily reports from New York City during our EMAC deployment after Hurricane Sandy? Heck, why did I start this blog?

So that the lessons I have learned could be shared with everyone who stopped by. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Am I advocating that everyone start their own blog and get articles published about what they do? That would be awesome, but I'm realistic and know that not everyone will be so inclined. But, never shy away from sharing what you have learned with others.

Many years from now, some other PIO will be glad you did.

Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida

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