In between responding to media requests and managing community speaking engagements, public information officers often don’t have a lot of spare time. Yet one of their most important tasks often is the most time-consuming: Staying on top of news coverage about their organization.
Many PIOs track coverage manually, using a DVR, to record local news programs. But this requires them to review hours of coverage before selecting and saving relevant clips – a process that can quickly make their day disappear. This approach also makes it difficult to learn about coverage soon after it airs and respond quickly to correct misinformation. And there are other challenges as well, including optimizing media training and keeping elected officials and other department personnel informed.
Recently, we spoke to two PIOs who took a different approach: investing in a broadcast media monitoring service. Mark Techmeyer, the Director of Public Affairs for the Jefferson County (CO) Sheriff's Department, along with Stephanie Slater, PIO for the Boynton Beach (FL) Police Department and Past President of the National Information Officers Association (NIOA), shared the before and after of their experiences with broadcast media monitoring services. Here’s how they said the solution resolved some of their most nagging problems with manual tracking.
The Problems of Public Information Officers
Problem #1: All Those Hours!
Like many of their peers, both Mark and Stephanie were tracking coverage manually by recording the daily news broadcasts on each of their local networks. They would spend hours reviewing recordings for mentions of investigations, department personnel, or the organization itself. Switching to a broadcast media monitoring service substantially streamlined the process.
Now, the service scans the news for them, according to their watch terms. Not only do they spend less time on this task, but they can monitor a wider range of issues, as well as share and archive videos more easily.
Problem #2: Those Surprise Calls from the Boss
Another challenge of manually monitoring the news is that you may not learn about important mentions before senior officials do. “You never want to be surprised by the boss,” Mark points out. Both PIOs are now the first to know whenever a news program mentions their department or an investigation. They’re emailed alerts about coverage soon after it airs. Then, as needed, they can share the segments with any interested parties - and avoid those uncomfortable conversations with the boss.
Problem #3: All Those DVDs!
Prior to investing in a broadcast media monitoring service, both Mark and Stephanie had cabinets and shelves filled with DVDs and tapes, which required significant storage space and were difficult to search. They now archive news clips electronically, making research easy for anyone in the department. If an investigator wants to review news coverage of old cases, they can easily go back several years and find them.
Problem #4: Just the Facts, Please
In fast-moving situations, such as emergencies or crises, the risk of making a mistake is high. Mark points out that the media doesn’t always get the story right, and it’s up to the PIO to correct any misinformation. Speed is essential in these cases. When the PIO receives news alerts, he can review them immediately and reach out quickly to journalists to make corrections.
Problem #5: Learn from Best Practices
Journalists often ask police officers investigating incidents for comment while at the scene. To prepare, PIOs put their deputies through media training. Broadcast clips are highly effective at demonstrating what works and what doesn’t. Mark says he shares clips from both local and national cases around the country in both basic and advanced sessions. And in addition to best practices, he also shows trainees examples of how not to appear on camera.
For both Mark and Stephanie, giving up the DVR wasn’t a particularly difficult decision. Says Stephanie: “As PIOs, we have a ton of other things that we need to do. So, for me, having a program like this where it is easy to use, easy to navigate and easy to archive was a no-brainer.”
PIO Webinar for PIOs and Broadcast Media Monitoring
Want to learn more? Watch the PIO Webinar Replay and learn how you can influence coverage and outcomes with broadcast media monitoring. This webinar provides a brief overview of broadcast media monitoring and then dives a little deeper into how PIOs can be use it in practice. A short demo rounds out the presentation.
- An overview of broadcast media monitoring
- How the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and Boynton Beach Police Department use media monitoring to increase efficiency and improve performance
- A brief demonstration of TVEyes
More Public Information Officer and Broadcast Monitoring Resources