3 Ways to Quickly Own the Conversation

Government and Public Information Officers (PIO) play a major role in our 24/7 media world, and that’s going to stop anytime soon. The easiest way for government agencies, departments, and entities to put their best foot forward is to give local news a pipeline right to the Public Information Officer.

As the PIO, you’re able to better control the message than many other civil servants and by making yourself available, you allow others to focus on their tasks without worry that they may make a mistake and say something inappropriate or untrue. You get to be their safety net, and doing your job well will make others happy that you’re there.

And the thing they’ll love the most is when you make it easy for the outside world to reach you, with as few hoops as possible. Here are a couple of thoughts on getting everyone to you quickly and then how to control the conversation when they arrive.

Start by Putting Your PIO Contact Information Everywhere

At the top of the PIO best practices list is to make sure your office is as visible as possible, so that the press and local community leaders reach out to you instead of going directly to employees, first responders, or high-ranking officials.

The easiest way for you to start controlling the message and deliver the right information to people is to start putting your contact information on each piece of content you produce. Press releases and fact sheets are the first things most of us will think of, but you should also ensure that every page of your website has at least one piece of contact information.

You can easily put a phone number and general email address in the footer of a site. We also see customers have great success when they build press release, email, and other templates with contact information secure in the header or footer. Having it ready ahead of time means you don’t need to worry about things when you’re facing an emergency or an emerging story.

Other places you should consider placing contact information include:

  • Social media sites, such as in the profile of official Twitter handles and on government Facebook pages.
  • In information kits, brochures, and media packages that you hand out to local leaders.
  • Any slide deck you use for presentations to your local community.
  • Resources you share with other leaders in local government or even nearby PIOs.

Prep Your Messages

Interviews are the lifeblood of information dissemination and you’ve probably had a few already today. So, you know that the better prepared you are, the better your interviews go.

Most PIOs will make quick fact sheets and bulleted lists to help them make sure a call goes well – or are easy to memorize when you’re getting ready for a TV interview.

The digital age is pushing more interviews to digital mediums, such as Skype calls now showing up on the nightly news. This represents a great opportunity for the PIO for two reasons: 1) you get to have your materials with you, which makes it easier to quote facts and figures, and 2) you also have a direct line to the media to share information with them.

Now, we think you should use NovusAGENDA to host your meetings so it’s easy to quickly share all of the data you want in documents anyone on the call can access. However, no matter what service you end up using, sharing that information digitally is a great way to have it mentioned and expand your reach.

Added Tip: Everyone Is Your Grandma

Every time you prep for a meeting, interview, phone call, or have an interaction as the PIO, imagine that you’re sharing the information with your grandma. This allows you to focus on the key materials, explain it in a way that everyone can understand, and helps you treat all reporters equally without losing your cool.

Even our grandmas can get on our nerves sometimes, but we do our best to make sure that we’re sweet and don’t argue too much. You treat her with respect, and treating your audience with respect will show that you care about them.