Frequently Asked Questions: Police and Fire Communications

Why call it “John Guilfoil Public Relations” ? Why not “Public Information” or “Crisis Comms”

The company is called John Guilfoil Public Relations for a reason, and it’s not because it’s easy to say Guilfoil (actually, it IS easy to say Guilfoil — Fish have Gills, and Foil, Gill-Foil — but that’s beside the point).

It’s “Public Relations” because that’s what we do. We do everything from image management to branding to crisis to web design, to photography. We offer the whole “PR Firm” treatment to our clients. We don’t just do one thing.

$200 a month? Seriously, how much am I really getting for that?

If you cover a town of 1,500 people, you likely don’t have the budget or have enough work to justify hiring a 40-hour-a-week public information officer. But if 20 towns like yours band together, you can retain those services at a fraction of the cost. That’s our business model.

Whether its 20 or 200 departments, every chief or administrator gets a dedicated account executive they can call 24/7, and they should expect that person to check in with them regularly as well. We also blast our your press releases to local and regional media, monitor the media for mentions of your department, train your department on how to interact with the press, help manage your social media, and much more.

Every department gets the  same level of service. Every department is a priority. We don’t cash your check every month and ask “how’s it goin?” Our staff is always working on ways to better position your department with positive stories and preparing you for crisis.

Won’t it get confusing if you’re talking to the press every day, representing a different city or town?

In nearly all cases, we’re not the ones talking on the record to the press or in front of the cameras. The police and fire departments are the ones doing the real, lifesaving work. They talk to the press. We just set it up so that you’re in front of the cameras, saying the right things, at the right times. We’re perfectly happy to stand behind the cameras when they start rolling.

Of course, sometimes we have to talk to the press, as all public relations professionals do. But we treat “police and fire public relations” the same as corporate public relations — we make our intentions clear with the reporter. We let them know who we represent. Reporters don’t get confused, because they are used to dealing with us PR people!

What if my department is in conflict with another department?

If both departments are JGPR clients, we recuse ourselves from stories that deal with said conflict, as it would present a conflict of interest.

What if my department is in the middle of a difficult labor negotiation?

We represent our client. If the city/town/department is our client, JGPR works in the best interests of the city/town/department.

I think this is a great idea, but what if I just want to have someone on-call in case of disaster?

Out of all the public relations services we provide to police and fire departments, for some chiefs the most important benefit we provide is peace of mind. You get a phone number that is answered by a human being 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including weekends and holidays.

If you can’t afford or are not ready for the rest of our services, Tier 1 communities can retain JGPR for $50 a month and Tier 2/3 communities can retain JGPR for $100 per month to guarantee your department priority response during any incident or crisis. We also discount our per diem for retainer clients — $400 per day for dayside (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), $600 for “first half” (4 p.m. to midnight) and $1000 for overnight or holiday calls.

For the price of a magazine subscription, you ensure that someone will be there for you.

Do you do web design?

Yes. We use WordPress software to create a clean, professional website for your department that uses your dot-com name. We host it on our servers for free for all clients or for $50 per month for non PR clients.

There are many reasons why you might want a custom website. We can make a news portal like Boston Police use or make a recruitment tool for your volunteer fire department, with event photos and pictures of all your fire trucks.

Contact us for a quote.

Why should my department care about social media?

Your members are doing stupid things on social media right now. They are. Everyone does.

Social media is an important enough issue for New York and Boston to pay attention. Here’s another good example from Police Chief Magazine.

When we train your department or create your social media policy, we don’t just talk about how great Twitter is for getting the word out. We also demonstrate it as an investigative tool, and we show you when NOT to use social media.

I’m a town manager. Can you do all of this for my public works and highway departments as well?

Yes. We are a full-service firm. We can teach your highway department to use Twitter to spread the word about roadwork, and we can tout how many potholes your crews have filled.

We can even tailor government agency packages that are similar to our police and fire retainer contracts.

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