Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wrapped up with a bow

Getting coverage for an event that you hold can often times be a difficult task. I mean, there are so many different competing events, news crews are stretched to their limits and - often times - the PIOs setting up their events fail to think of the most basic elements.

  • What will we see?
  • What will we learn?
  • What can we communicate to our viewers or readers?

We recently faced this conundrum at a holiday public safety event we wanted to hold. The event - a cooperative effort between the Hillsborough County, City of Tampa, City of Temple Terrace and Plant City fire departments, was going to demonstrate a united front, showing how we work together to ensure the safety of our nearly 1.4 million residents during this time of the year.

The first challenge, which proved easy to overcome, was getting everyone in the four departments on board. Given the fact that we are stronger together than separate, it was a no-brainer, and the cooperation couldn't have gone any better. With some hard work and juggling schedules, we were able to line up the City of Tampa's training grounds for the demonstration.

Now, how to get the media's attention?  I mean, lining up a 2 hour long media event had more than a few eyebrows raised. How would we keep the reporters there, and what would we be able to provide them? I mean, if this didn't go off well, we'd look like a bunch of dopes. We had to gift wrap this media availability with everything we could possibly need.

Fortunately, we were able to get a lot of great information out. Bet you didn't know that candles are a huge source of fires this time of the year?  Or that space heaters could lead to blazes if not handled properly?

That was great information, but what the reporters wanted to see was flames. Burning. Combustion. We had PLENTY of that!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, how bright you burn when ignited
How about not watering a Christmas tree?  You do realize that by not giving the tree enough water, it can burn like the dickens. Putting that tree into a home can lead to an inescapable situation in mere minutes. Watering the tree daily is the best way to prevent things from bursting into flame.

And, there's always the question about cooking the holiday dinner. Here in the south, a tradition of frying turkeys is something everyone can get behind. If the bird isn't completely thawed and rocket-hot oil spills onto the open flame of a propane burner, well, you can imagine the fireworks that you can expect to see.

Turkey flambe, anyone?
By the end of the two-hour event, the reporters left with spectacular images, a sheaf of information about holiday fire safety and the material to put together some serious educational material for their viewers and readers.

A holiday safety event wrapped up in a bow and delivered to the public.

Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida

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