Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fill your toolbox

I don't know if I have ever alluded to this, but I am a woodworker. No, I don't build cabinets for a living, but I do like to mess around in my garage and build some halfway-decent looking pieces. I have even been running a woodworking blog since August of 2007, which is what gave me the confidence to start this blog in the first place.

Me working in the shop
Every month, I get catalogs stuffed to the gills with advertisements for the latest and greatest tools in them. There are ultra-fine Japanese chisels made from the iron of century old ship anchors. There are enormous, behemoth milling machines that can straighten and face boards more than 20 inches across in seconds. Heck, there are even tools that promise to do most of the woodworking for you.

The Clown Prince of woodworking, Roy Underhill
But, every time I look at these tools - and check the bank account - I have to remember that each of those tools is just that - a tool. Woodworkers such as Roy Underhill demonstrate that the vast majority of woodworking until the early 1900s was done with a very basic set of hand tools. As new tools have been introduced over the decades, they may have changed the way that woodworking happens, but they don't change the fact that by putting two boards together the right way, you can build a beautiful project that can last several lifetimes. 

Ahhh, social media....
Why bring this up in a PIO blog? Well, the drumbeat has been getting louder since about 2008. At first, people asked if I had ever heard about these brand new social media services - Facebook and Twitter. Maybe, if people had the right video hardware, they might question how to incorporate videos from YouTube. 

Over the years, the questions have become more sophisticated. When is the best time to post? Who should have access to the account? Should we even be doing more traditional public information and media relations, or should we just shift totally to a social media based media outreach program?

My answer throughout the years has always remained the same. Maybe it's because I am a woodworker, but I always answer by asking, "What are these services to you?" That's usually the a-ha moment when people realize that yeah, they are simply tools to make our jobs a little easier to accomplish.

My well-stocked hand tool tool chest
Would I ever advocate giving up traditional outreach tools? Absolutely not. Just as in my workshop, I have tools that work exceptionally well for different jobs. For instance, my table saw is a great tool for cutting boards in half either length or crosswise, but it is awful at cutting curves into a project. For that, I would turn to my band saw or a jig saw. And, there are sometimes when I simply need the accuracy, control - or silence - that a well-sharpened chisel or block plane can only provide. 

The reality is that the best PIOs develop a well-stocked toolbox of methods to conduct their outreach, and they pull them out to do the right job with the right audience at the right time. Sometimes, a social media post is the best way to reach one audience, but a news release may work better. A public speaking engagement might grab the audience you are looking to reach, or maybe a well-written flier handed out at a local library will fill the bill. 

A cherry hope chest I built for my neice
Believe me, having a full tool box - and knowing how to use the tools contained within - will go a long way toward making your work a masterpiece. 

Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida

1 comment:

  1. Great column. It's important to have the tools, but even more important to keep sharp things sharp but practicing...and knowing which tools to use when. Having a bunch of tools won't do you any good if you don't know when and when not to use them - especially in an emergency.