Spreading helpful information in the public safety realm is just as important as saving lives. Communication and awareness are key in staying up-to-date with new laws, regulations and innovations in technology, whether a professional is in law enforcement, fire & rescue, corrections, EMS or local government. In addition to getting a story or piece of news out, there has to be attention grabbing techniques in doing so, and Greg Friese, Editorial Director of Lexipol and Editor-in-Chief of EMS1.com aims to revolutionize how professionals receive information, policies, training and resources for all public safety sectors across the U.S.
Lexipol is the only company in the U.S. that serves all public safety and local government with solutions of the power of information with the impact of technology. To date, Lexipol provides more than 2 million first responders and local government officials with training, grant assistance, news and analysis. EMS1.com helps to revolutionize the way EMS professionals find relevant news from training information to research in product purchases and suppliers. Altogether, Friese helps to organize the diluted, unnecessary information and showcases the most important, relevant news and information for the fast-paced environment of the public safety sector.
Public information officers (PIOs) are communication coordinators of various governmental organizations. Their job is to provide information to the public and media as necessary to meet legal requirements. Greg Friese provides insight on tips and tricks for PIOs, marketing reps, PR vendors and various departments on how to reach media professionals in delivering the news in an effective manner through the use of press releases.
Press releases are utilized every day in receiving information but Friese’s largest challenge is sorting through the quality of press releasees. The writer of a press release should consider if the material has local or national attention. Local news is geared towards the facts at hand, but national exposure is for peers in the industry. To gain national recognition, media professionals are more interested in how something was accomplished and what steps were necessary in achieving that specific outcome. For instance, how did a department receive a specific grant, and what steps were taken in achieving the funding? How can we make another department eligible as well? The goal of writing on a national level is to teach others while writing on a local level involves informing the community most of the time.
Friese provides 6 tips and tricks to deliver effective press releases:
- PIOs should maintain a list of media contacts and build relationships with these contacts on the local side. Get to know the local media personalities and who covers public safety beats.
- Provide images and captions with who is in the image. Images with action are more interesting than standing group photos.
- Encourage PIOs to include short video clips if possible. That way, media professionals can post to their social channels. In an evolving multimedia world, all websites have to include visual content.
- Quotes from relevant subjects should not always be coming from a leader of an organization. Make the quote come from a chief officer or an EMT to diversify the voice and perspective of the story being told.
- PIOs should write as if they are writing a news article and avoid unnecessary fluff components. Get to the point in an eye-catching way and focus on the news of the article. General information of the department should be at the end of the press release.
- Do not persistently bother a media professional by sending multiple emails. A PIO may seem like they are being proactive, but the story or information either makes the news or it doesn’t in both the local or national landscape. Unfortunately, there are limits on what can make broadcast.
In his additional last piece of advice, a tip he learned from a work colleague Matt Zavadsky, Friese suggests that point of contacts or PIOs should have daily stories ready to deliver. Once a person develops a strong relationship with other media professionals, media contacts will be reaching out to get story ideas. Be sure to have a list of current ideas and be ready to pitch. One may never know for sure but delivering that vital piece of information in trending news could end up saving a life.