By John Guilfoil
One of the reasons why JGPR exists is because I feel that police and fire departments, sheriff’s departments, emergency management agencies, ambulance providers, and other public servants are shockingly misrepresented and underrepresented in the media. I’m not talking about New York and Los Angeles. I’m talking about small towns in New Hampshire that deal with a horrific tragedy and others, where residents all but disregard the small regional airport in their backyard until one day…
I’m talking about people who don’t ask for the spotlight. And it’s not nearly just about “incidents” and bad news. There’s good police work, like using the local drag strip to teach kids about cars, instead of arresting them for street racing. Firefighters filling the boot and watching their sons and daughters join the department. (That one’s very near and dear to my heart.)
I get it. But I’m not a cop or a fireman. I don’t act like one. I’m a publicist, and I want to help you. As a news reporter, I’ve stood in the snow at house fires and learned to read the tone of voice in a patrolman when I arrived at a shooting scene.
I give presentations on the importance of having a dedicated Public Information Officer. In those presentations, I stress that the Chief of the Department should NOT serve as the public information officer. A PIO has to wrangle the press and respond to minute questions on the phone, email, and even social media. A civilian, ideally, or a member of the command staff should be given this task, to free up the chief and to properly prepare him or her for a press conference or interview.
Most public relations firms don’t understand the police and fire culture. This is clear in their approach, style, and price.
We can produce a social media policy for your department, issue press releases, or be there for you during a major incident in your city or town. We can even come down to your station and train your staff on how to handle calls from news reporters or angry Tweeters. Contact us for more information.