My New Years Resolution is...

All right, we all do it. We either make resolutions that we cannot keep or keep resolutions that we later end up regretting. Personally, if I had a dime for each New Years resolution that I've made and then later reneged on, I'd probably not be sitting here writing this article now.

Let's see, I've resolved to get in better shape. (who hasn't). I've resolved to be more organized. (What for? They just give you more work!) I've even resolved for my wife, I'd finish up some of those projects around the house. (The same one's I made promises to finish in 2001) Well you get the idea.

These are promises we make and break to ourselves, and usually they don't affect too many people. But what if you're the Public Information Officer for your agency? Doesn't your position as PIO, deserve some promises of its' own? Doesn't the public we so proudly serve, deserve a resolution from you as your department's most visible communicator, educator and leader?

I know you're sitting there nodding your head, yes! So while you're sitting their uttering one of the single most ill-fated, phrases in the American lexicon; "My New Years resolution is" make one that you know you can keep. And that's a resolution to your constituents, your department, and just as important, the media.

Resolution #1: Education

I was just telling someone the other day, how disappointed I felt about our performance as a PIO section, after September 11th. The month all the Anthrax attacks occurred, as we predicted, our office was barraged with requests from the media to get the local angle. They wanted to know if we were ready in Los Angeles County for such an incident. Fortunately, from a field or operations stand point, we were. However, from a media relations stand point, we were a little unrefined, let's just say. Our Terrorism Section Chief and Captain had their plates full, as one would expect. So that meant all the microphones, cameras , and reporters notebooks were in the faces of the Information Officers. I'm not going to say we crashed and burned, however, because we're still trying to get our arms around this Terrorism beast, performing at our peak was at best difficult.

So being the devoted public relations professional I am, I have made a resolution to immerse myself in this thing called Domestic Terrorism. I want to know everything about it, read everything about it and take every class that is about it. Not just for me, but for the public we serve. We owe it to the people in our communities to impart everything that we possibly can, that will result in the least amount of destruction and/or casualties, before another terrorist act occurs. So, I said all that to say, make sure you resolve to stay updated on new procedures, training, and equipment. If you're a "news junkie" like I am, you'll have no problem being current on the latest developments with respect to Terrorism. But, there are also plenty of conferences and seminars I guess we'll be seeing each other at.

Resolution #2: Develop New Ideas

Be creative this year. Think of new, fresh and innovative approaches to educate, promote, market and sell your product. Change your web site. Give it a new look. One of the things we resolved to do in our department, is involve many of the smaller fire department PIO's to some of our annual press conferences. This is a good way to form some new relationships and alliances for the New Year. If you happen to be a large department like ours and tend to get all of the spotlight, this is a good way to share that spotlight and get a united message out.

Resolution #3: Develop your own core values and vision statement

More than likely your department has already established a set of core values, goals and objectives and a vision statement. But, have you developed one for yourself. One that engenders the qualities of what we as firefighters and PIO's stand for. Reliability. professionalism, and integrity. Core values and vision statements, have been proven to give both organizations and individuals direction and steadfastness. They are the difference between a ship at sea with a stiff wind in its' sails or a boat up the creek without an ore. Resolve yourself to make positive change for your department, and in your position as a PIO.

Now you're ready to set the world on fire. (Figuratively, of course) So as you're standing in the mirror, considering the resolution you've made about your expanding waistline. Remember to also expand your knowledge, expand your ideas of what a PIO for 2003 should be all about, and finally, expand yourself, professionally with new goals and objectives, core values and a vision. And by the way... Happy New Year!!