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Proactive Social Media Outreach = Passive News Story Pitch

Proactive Social Media Outreach = Passive News Story Pitch

Proactive social media outreach is by far the most powerful tool a PIO can use to promote their fire department.  On a Red Flag Warning day when every fire district in the eastern half of Colorado was facing high fire danger, it was mine that got the spotlight, why?  Using creative, educational social media messages before the typical 9 a.m. news meetings is the best way to passively pitch a story idea.  The message is written for the community, the media receives it, decides to pursue a story and the message is carried to even more community members.  A win-win.

FDIC 2018

FDIC 2018

Everything I was told came true.  My first visit to the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) was beyond energizing.  On the journey to Indianapolis I sat next to my brother and mentor, Dave McGrail who is a well respected instructor on topics surrounding high rise firefighting.  I always learn something new from Dave when we spend time together and it was a good prep for my up coming presentation.  

I spent weeks on end anxious for my class.  I often feel like I don’t have anything ground breaking to offer but the classroom reviews and kind words from strangers keeps me motivated.  When I walked up to room 139 at the convention center and saw a sign with my name on it, the reality of this incredible opportunity really sank in.  In a large empty classroom I set up all of my electronics and impatiently waited for the clock to tick forward.  While waiting I was taken back by an unexpected handshake and kind greeting from I man I’ve “known” since I was a child.  Countless times since elementary school I’ve watched video of Kevin Shea (FDNY Rescue 1 Firefighter) rappel off the roof of a burning high rise to rescue a trapped occupant.  Kevin and the victim dangled from a rope above the street, swinging into windows until crews inside pulled them to safety.  His humble news interview that day was just like our first meeting at FDIC.  He offered me well wishes and said he’d be around if I needed anything. It was just what I didn’t know I needed to hear to put me in the right mindset for the day.

My 4-hour presentation covers basic and not so basic elements of social media.  I discuss the statistical basis for why fire departments need a good social media manager and provide a recipe for success.  The bread and butter of PIO work is also slathered on in the second portion of the class.  Topics include how to present breaking news on social media, what to prepare for with interviews and where to establish a media staging area.  Next, I dive into photography and videography and show my new friends exactly how I capture images on scene an why they’re important.  The class concludes with the hardest story to tell, a line of duty death (LODD).  In the past year I’ve been directly involved with two very different LODD’s that provide beneficial lessons learned to other who sadly might have to face their own.  Although it’s a solemn way to end a half day class, I think that uncomfortable subject matter needs to be discussed and prepared for.

I was thrilled to read my class reviews a short time later and discover that once again, I had something important to offer and my knowledge is helping other PIO’s improve their programs.  I’ve already submitted my papers for FDIC 2019 and I will be humbled at the opportunity to present again.  FDIC was very kind and featured my presentation in a blog at this link… http://www.fdic.com/articles/2018/04/mastering-social-media-and-photography-workshop.html

 

FDIC 2018

FDIC 2018

I am thrilled to be presenting with the best in the business.  Please join me for FDIC 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 24th for a 4 hour workshop, “Telling Your Fire Department’s Story.”