Two ways new PIOs can get their EMS agency positive press

You have permission to go behind the scenes of the media outlet you want to cover your agency, so take full advantage of this opportunity

If you’re new to your role as a public information officer or in leading public relations efforts for your EMS agency, you’ve got a great opportunity to “play dumb.” So are you taking full advantage?

Here are some examples of what you can get away with that veteran PR pros cannot.

1. Visit the media on their turf

Your new job includes pitching stories to TV, radio or print media, so you need to understand how they operate. Ask the outlet if you can hang out with them for a morning to learn how things work behind the scenes.

Spend a couple hours sitting with the assignment desk and see how many calls come in from PR folks trying to get their stories covered. See all the emails staff skims through, and the social media posts they constantly monitor. Listen to the scanners in the background and the back-and-forth in the newsroom.

I guarantee you that the respect you have for the assignment desk staff will increase, and you’ll also learn how to better share your story ideas and get covered.

You also should ask to sit in on the meeting where editors assign and reporters and photographers pitch potential stories. Listen to how they decide which ideas are important enough to cover. Understand why other stories get ignored or left off the list because the station didn’t consider it newsworthy or simply didn’t have enough resources.

In one morning you’ll learn more about how to get your story on TV than anything else you could do. It will also make the newsroom more receptive to your future pitches.

Not only because you now understand what they need, but because the assignment desk staff can put your face and personality with the voice over the phone or words in an email. It’s the ultimate tie-breaker when it’s your story versus another.

2. Shamelessly steal tips from other PIOs

When I first began as a PIO for an ambulance service, I reached out to several area municipality and fire department PIOs and asked if I could meet with them. I got some great insight and advice to help me in my new job.

And while you’re at it, are there any other industry peers you need an excuse to call and invite for coffee?

Here’s the part that will surprise you more than anything. If you’re willing to admit that you’re new to your job and ask someone else for help, they will quickly and gladly agree.

People love talking about themselves and explaining what they do, so simply ask if they have any advice for you in your new job, or what they would do in your position.

You won’t sound like a lightweight; you’ll sound like an up-and-comer.  

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