It’s summer time, the weather is hot and dry, school is months away and I’m constantly trying to find ways to keep myself busy. Often I look for any kind of freelance gigs to cross my path and this last week Merritt Allen of Vox Optima LLC hired me on to help out with a training seminar for media relations during an emergency response situation.
At this seminar we had numerous representatives from local and state agencies that can be found at the scene of any number of high stress emergency situations. The goal of the class was to teach organizations the importance of having a media communication plan in order to get important information out to the public while as maintaining control of information that could be constantly changing and possibly highly sensitive to the situation.
On top of being run by Merritt, who has years of experience as a Public Relations expert, we also involvement by Floyd Vasquez who is my former New Mexico in Focus producer at New Mexico PBS. Having a familiar face who I’ve worked with in the past made things a lot easier to assimilate to the situation and make it look like I know what I’m doing and talking about.
Even though both Merritt and Floyd have been in this line of work for longer than I’ve been alive they were incredibly helpful at making me feel like I had just as much to contribute to the conversation and the material even though I had specifically signed on as a camera operator and I’m still just a college student.
Despite being there as camera operator and pseudo instructor I left with learning a lot about what goes into covering a developing situations and how the relationship between the Public Information Officers and reporters is vital to getting the story out accurately and in a timely matter.
The biggest take away from the seminar was that in and emergency situation every one is there to do their job. The media is trying to get information to report, emergency responders are trying to gather information while getting control of the situation and PIO’s are there to make sure that the information that is getting out is accurate and isn’t going to cause interference with the on going situation.
I really appreciate Merritt Allen and Vox Optima LLC having me out to work the seminar and I hope I get to work with them more in the future.