Monday, December 2, 2013

Preparing for the Future: Internship with the Hamilton Police

When first thinking about a job in Public Relations, my mind often jumped to corporate communications and things like integrated marketing schemes. For me, the term meant business and profit, and generally did not inspire visions of public service. However, in the past month I have fortunately had the opportunity to work with Hamilton Police Services (HPS) as a Media Relations intern. I have experienced a bit of an epiphany, seeing first-hand the public service side of PR.

The HPS works under a proactive, community-based and problem-solving model. I can see evidence of this every day. From the busy production of news releases, interviews, television appearances, and community events, the HPS is consistently taking a proactive approach to the City of Hamilton.

The City has seen violent crime rates drop by at least 19% in the past year. As stated in this article, the police chief credits law enforcement and the economy for the numbers, but I would reckon that the proactive approach of the Media Relations team is also present. Their successful ability to communicate with the public, building relationships of trust and understanding is the first step towards a safer community.

In particular, I have experienced this proactive, community-based model through the use of HPS social media. In several cases, my tasks have included developing Tweets for information about Grey Cup partying, impaired driving, and winter driving. The HPS Media Relations team skilfully recognizes potential problems before they become an issue or a crisis.

My Tweets were used over the course of several days and through the HPS YouTube channel. Some examples of the proactive approach to the Grey Cup:

I am not originally from the City of Hamilton, and this is by far the largest community I have ever lived in. My preconceived negative ideas of "big city life" have been dispelled through working with HPS. I recognize the great work that the Service provides every day, and I am very grateful for the first-hand experience of Public Relations in a form that directly serves the needs of the public.

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