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Westside sit-down with City PIO

"it important to give back to the community, don't ever forget where you come from" said Burks

“it important to give back to the community, don’t ever forget where you come from” said Burks

Westside sit-down with City PIO

By Ciera Campbell, A’Nassya Bruton and Jalen Williams

You always want to test drive a car before you buy it and that’s exactly what we were doing when we embarked on a new opportunity with the Westside Gazette Newspaper. This adventure will allow us to write and cover stories as well as meet newscasters, Public Information Officers (PIO) and workers who are in the broad field of Journalism.

On May 29, Wednesday morning, we had an inside glimpse with the Westside Gazette’s publisher, Mr. Bobby Henry, Sr., on how the city of Fort Lauderdale’s PIO Specialist, Petula Burks began her life as a Southern Belle from Georgia to sunny South Florida.

We got a small insight of what it takes to be a journalist. Most people believe that a journalism degree means you can only work for magazines, radios, television or newspaper. We used to think the same way.

Ms. Burks helps manages the city of Fort Lauderdale’s events. The responsibilities of a PIO are to create and maintain a good public image for their employer or client. This includes planning, writing media releases, and fundraisers for their organization.

Ms. Burks has a degree in journalism and works with the city’s elected officials and employees to help communicate ideas and create events to make the city enjoyable for all its citizens.

We entered the City of Fort Lauderdale’s PIO conference room where we all received a candid conversation with the woman who informs the media and the communities about the City’s annual events and other affairs that help the City of Fort Lauderdale receive positive recognition.

At first when we sat down we all, except for Mr. Henry were nervous, but Ms. Burks acknowledging that she was  intrigued that three African American students from the prestigious Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University(FAMU) had a craving for more knowledge concerning the broad field of Journalism allowed us relax.

After introductions and aspirations were shared, Ms. Burk’s decided she was going to explain her career, her childhood and the difficult choices that journalism presents daily.

This informative conference was far different than what we expected, because Ms. Burk was personal and so open to share and encourage each one of us.

Ms. Burks was very motivational and she was accepting of our questions and concerns. She shared her experiences as an intern, a journalist and her very interesting and complex job.

One of her most memorable events is her work with Light Up Sistrunk, which has become a bright and shining star for the historic Sistrunk District named proudly after one of the promennate Black doctors of the area.

“It’s important to give back to the community, don’t ever forget where you’ve came from,” said Burks.

She explained how it’s very important to always remain level headed and humble in life. By being level headed and focused will help you become successful. This experience was inspiring and a reminder of why it’s important to treat others with respect.

She was giving us advice that would help further our careers in the vast sphere of Journalism.

The discussion was helpful and made us realize that we have an opportunity to be a voice of many people including those who are often times over looked.

Journalists are given the opportunity to impact the lives they serve through communications every day.

We learned that a person could take a communications or journalism degree almost anywhere and that this field of work will be rigorous and challenging at times. We were also informed that we might have to work on holidays and get called in on your days off. But the one thing she said that stuck the most was, “You must love what you do.”

In addition, Ms. Burks’ main goal is to bring the city of Fort Lauderdale more diversity.  Petula Burks said: “Diversity and inclusion are a hard thing and we’re very different from Miami. You can go to anything in Miami and you’ll see thousands of people and all people are different, but when you come here you can see thousands of people and unfortunately 90 percent of those people will be the same.”

There was a lot to take from this interview and one thing for sure is that the sky is the limit when it comes to journalism.

     Summer interns Ciera Campbell, A’Nassya  Bruton and Jalen Williams  are  all students at Florida A&M University seeking a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Broadcast Journalism.

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