PIOs are a diverse bunch. We work in government, schools, charities, companies, law enforcement, fire departments, hospitals and everything in between. I happen to work at the American Red Cross, and so I work with PIOs from all of the above. And often that’s in the middle of the night in a remote area, in the chaos of a fire, flood, or humanitarian crisis. But just as often, I’m working with a PIO planning a water safety event or home fire prevention walk or ad campaign to benefit the Red Cross.
What's my point? We are all connected. And if we're not, we need to be. Becasue if we're doing our jobs, we'll be working with one another -- often on short notice under tough conditions. Ask Dwight D'Evelyn. He's the PIO with the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office. I hitched a ride -- literally because I was stranded -- with him during the Yarnell fire. How did I know Dwight? Through PIO circles like this one. Both of us carry Judy Kioski's PIO list on flashdrives on our keychains. That's how connected we all are.
Connecting and staying connected is a lot of work. You must be intentional about it. Attend the APS PIO Symposium, connect with the Arizona Information Officers' Association on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ArizonaPIO/) and reach out to your peers when you have a question. Chances are, someone else has had the same question and now has the answer to share. Set up lunch with a colleague you haven't met. Remember that tired old phrase "networking?" Do it.
Staying connected is a lot of work and it pays off. Especially when you’re stranded on the side of the road during a time of disaster. And if I was too tired to say thanks that night, Dwight, I’m saying it now. And thanks to APS and the Cronkite School for giving me the opportunity.