Public relations and handling public information requests is not an easy task and I know this from personal experience. You serve two masters — the people who pay your salary and the demanding media. If you mishandle that second relationship, you don’t have a lot of value to offer those who hired you. And in fairness, many times your client, your company, your mayor and city council, place you between a rock and a hard place. So with that in mind, we tip our hat to Tustin’s PIO Lisa Woolery for being named “PIO of the Year” by PublicCEO.com.
From the story:
In the City of Tustin, 2011 was a dynamic year. Challenges cropped up as the City dealt with lawsuits with the local school district, and a recall effort was waged against the Mayor. However, the City also restarted a massive redevelopment project for the Tustin Air Base and opened a new facility at the Tustin Metro stop. Helping with each challenge, success, or program there was the Public Information Officer, Lisa Woolery.
“I was really proud that our council let me break into social media,” said Woolery in an interview with PublicCEO. “It was at a time when our budgets were being cut and mine was cut in half and then cut in half again. I was stuck in a position on how to get my message out to Tustin when I didn’t have the budget to do it.”
Maintaining the Public Information Office when so many battles and issues are concurrently occurring requires skill, dedication, and creativity. Lisa Woolery not only managed her job, but she became a leader in social media and new media technologies such as Facebook and Twitter. She also produced efficient but information videos that communicate the City’s news and achievements.
“I looked at social media – Facebook and Twitter –and it worked out really well,” Woolery said. “I created a really nice community in social media that has helped us interact even better than before (the budget cuts). It lets me interact one on one and answer questions directly.”
At the time of this award, the City of Tustin’s Facebook community incorporates 3,404 friends, or about 5% of the city’s population. Tustin also has about 2,700 followers on Twitter.
Not only did she help her own City, she also delivered presentations and served on several panels discussing how social media can be an asset for cities. One of those presentations came at the California Contract Cities Association conference.
Now anyone who has to work for former mayor Jerry Amante deserves combat pay. Ms. Woolery juggles a difficult job while raising young children and manages the difficult task of balance. She’s well-respected by our friends Jeff Gallagher at the OurTown Tustin blog and by LiberalOC friend John Hanna. And while I haven’t met her personally, I respect the work she does and her personal integrity. She has a difficult client and should be commended for her work.
Our dealings with Ms. Woolery are professional and cordial; given the political positions of this blog, we are treated as you might expect. Our records requests get honored, (but would love those phone calls returned a little quicker) but we’re not going to see eye to eye (at least until Mr. Amante leaves office), and I don’t expect her to answer my biggest question why Mayor John Nielsen never speaks when Amante is drinking water.
Congratulations to her for her professional achievement. And may we build some bridges in the year ahead (depending on the November elections I am sure).