I have a confession to make. I am a PIO who happens to ride mass transit to work. That's right, I take the bus from my home, across Tampa Bay to my office.
Which means I can't keep my go kit in my trunk. So, I have had to make some adjustments on what I bring to work and how I travel with it. I go fully self-contained to work with my go kit on my back!
How is it possible? It's actually easier than you think.
First, I have to start with a really good backpack. This one from Swiss Gear has a lot of padding for my back, plus it has a ton of separated compartments, which make it easy to store things where I can grab them easily. I added the nifty orange handle flag so everyone will know it's mine!
In the easy scan pocket closest to my back, I have stashed my own personal Chromebook. It was cheap, it runs PowerPoint presentations, and it is lightweight. I have added the proper cables to connect it to a projector, a wireless mouse and a presentation clicker. This way, I am always good to go if I want to write a blog, do a talk... the works.
Next up, I have my county issued iPad and my binder. Is it redundant? Perhaps. But, this way, I can have the Chromebook up presenting and I can work on other items if another presenter is speaking. I'm not stuck this way. The binder, well, what if my battery runs out?
Also tucked in the backpack are a good supply of business cards, a few pens and markers and some reporter notebooks. I prefer the reporter style notebooks because they fit easily into a pants pocket and the spiral binding allows them to lay flat.
I also have a paper list of phone numbers available because - again - what if I need to get in touch with someone? The lists have phone numbers for important county contacts, news desks, allied agencies ... the works.
Since I now wear glasses, I have to keep them clean so I can see. The screen cleaner and microfiber cloth can keep the glasses, computer and phone screens spotless, and the hard glasses case also keeps a spare pair of sunglasses at the ready for me. Believe me, working outdoors in the bright Florida sunshine can really do a number on your eyes without some protection.
And, when the bright sunshine gives way to pouring rain, there's no substitute for a good rain poncho. Now, I think I made a mistake by buying a black one. Had I thought about it, something a little brighter and more reflective would have been a wiser decision. Added bonus - the poncho also covers the backpack, keeping its contents dry if I have to head outdoors.
How reliant have we become on electronics? That's why my kit has a TON of mirco USB and Apple Lightning cables in it. I also have a rechargeable battery, a wall plug, a car charger and a charger that also uses AA batteries, so I have lots of options. A pair of earbuds helps if I have to listen to notes (or music after a long day). My Slingshot phone cradle gets tucked in there as well, along with a power strip that not only accepts standard plugs, but also has a pair of USB ports to plug into as well.
While you think about the gear to do the job, you often forget that you are out there as a person as well. That's why I don't go anywhere without a few essentials in the kit including hand sanitizer, a stomach settler, a painkiller, tissues and a few other essentials. A few sport bars that can hold you for a while until you can get a real meal can mean a lot out in the field.
Sure, it seems like a lot, but when you think about it, keeping these items in a backpack right at hand can make your job just a little easier when you have to grab and go. Plus, whenever you get to where you are setting up, it's easy to sling that bag down and use what you need.
Remember the old disaster preparedness mantra - it's better to have and not need than need and not have.
Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida