|Gary Vickers in the old Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center|
"Can you tell our viewers what a hurricane is?"
I froze, stunned by such a basic question coming from a reporter. Didn't she realize her station had five meteorologists who had been going wall-to-wall on hurricane coverage once Hurricane Charley had become a thing? Didn't she understand that hurricanes are a big deal here in Florida? Why was she interrupting our media briefing with such an inane question?
|A haboob, or dust storm, closes in on Phoenix, Arizona|
That's when I realized that our education plan was missing a major component - were we reaching the reporters in the market and educating them on the issues?
It was that point that we put into place some efforts to bring reporters up to speed on what we were dealing with in the Tampa Bay area. Our emergency managers worked more closely with the local TV meteorologists, often sharing the stage with them at public events to spread the word. We ensured that we had media briefings at the beginning of the season so they knew what the areas of emphasis were for that year.
|Media briefings ensure reporters are up to speed|
And, that education effort has paid dividends by increasing coverage, helping residents get a better idea of why they need to pay attention - and through the thanks we get from our partners in the media.
Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida