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Navigating the New Media Landscape: The More Things Change, the More They Need to Stay the Same

NCJ Number
THE POLICE CHIEF Volume: 74 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2007 Pages: 56-59
Ed Buice
Date Published
December 2007
4 pages
This article discusses ways in which police public information officers (PIOs) can use traditional practices to adapt to changes in media options for developing communications to and from the public.
Citizens and nonmedia public agencies have increased access to tools for mass communication, including video cameras, cell phones, and the Internet (e-mail for mass mailings and Web sites for multimedia communications). PIOs can use traditional principles for the dispensing of public information through these new tools. PIOs will always be storytellers; i.e., they collect and package information. Although the Web has made the PIO environment much more interactive, functioning on diverse platforms where medium and message are intertwined, PIOs must always anticipate what is news and what will be news. They must continue to collect and prioritize facts and assemble them into a narrative that makes sense and provides context. They must be able to communicate their stories effectively in writing, and they must be articulate speakers. Beyond delivering information to and through the news media, PIOs should study audience segmentation and target marketing in order to find new ways of making information available to various segments of the community for whom it is most relevance. PIOs must be attentive to what people are reading and watching and how they are gaining information. Information on how people in their jurisdiction gain information must also be tied to specific interest groups. Various demographic groups may receive their information on what is happening through different communication tools. PIOs must select communication tools appropriate for their target audience based on the information sources typically used by the target audience. 9 notes