By Tamas Mondovics
For most people, getting important news about the community, traffic crashes, public safety, crime updates and alerts is just part of everyday life. While that is true, getting the right information quickly—often within a matter of minutes of a news event—does not come about on its own, or without cooperation and commitment on the part of all agencies assigned to work together.
Each year, the Sheriff’s Office PIO staff generates hundreds of news releases and “Media Alerts” across the region in connection with crime or public safety, supported by the members of the local media. For example, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office pushed out 990 media alerts and wrote 526 news releases for 2013.
Making use of technology such as Facebook and Twitter, local PIO’s take time to alert residents of traffic problems, road closures, as well as weather or weather-related issues, all of which come in handy throughout the day.
To ensure that pertinent news and information will reach the public at the right time, Tampa Bay Regional Public Information Officers, along with representatives of local agencies from the Sheriff’s office, fire rescue and government as well as some members of the media met recently to brainstorm improvements. The annual event held at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Freddie Solomon Annex located at 1900 E. 9th Ave., Tampa, welcomed about 40 in attendance, representing parts of Tampa as well as communities in unincorporated Hillsborough County, addressing a number of topics and issues to improve on the dispensing of information to the public.
“The Tampa Bay area is the 14th largest media market in the United States,” said HCSO spokesperson, Cristal Bermudez, as she talked about the importance of the meeting.
Bermudez emphasized that the Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office (PIO) is responsible for collaborating with Tampa Bay medial to disseminate information of significant events of public interest and during times of catastrophic emergency. “To accomplish this, the Public Information Office strives to establish and maintain cooperative working relations with the varied news media and with the local community and business groups, as well as the general public,” she said. To see news releases and media alerts, visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.