Public Affairs helps tell stories behind Robins' missions

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78 ABW/PA
When it comes to base knowledge few people can boast they know something about almost every mission on base.

However, for members of the Robins Public Affairs office knowing something about everything is a way of life.

"A good public affairs specialist has to know just a little bit about everything. Our expertise lies in the fact that we are not experts, but that we know enough to get the experts," said Faye Banks-Anderson, deputy director of Robins public affairs.

In October 2007, the 78th Air Base Wing and the Warner Robins Air Logistics public affairs offices combined their missions to help better meet the needs of the Robins community.

"We are like a one-stop supermarket of information about the Air Force and Robins Air Force Base and we are here to tell the story," said John Birdsong, chief of media relations.

Along with the merger of the two PA offices, the base multimedia center also joined the team. The fusion of the three offices and their missions better equips the team to tell the story of Robins.

"Without PA, you wouldn't see the impact Team Robins has on Middle Georgia, the state and our nation," said Lt. Col. John Bryan, public affairs director.

Members of the team use numerous media to cover the base community including The Robins Rev-Up, Robins TV and the Robins public Web site.

"We've got news you can use and its all about the people at Robins. There are awesome photos, videos and stories about the extraordinary things people do here every day," said 1st Lt. Sequoiya Lawson, chief of internal information.

The team not only covers news themselves, media relation specialists escort reporters from media outlets on base to cover events.

There are seldom two days alike. One day members of the staff might escort media to the alert pad to get a glimpse of the 19th Air Refueling Group's 80 years of heritage and the next day staff members might write about the construction of the $21 million software facility by the 402nd Software Maintenance Group.

Members of the team come from various walks of life -- some are career civil servants, some are military dependents and others are retired members of the armed services. The diversity enables them to understand what's important to all walks of life at Robins.

George Jozens, a media relations specialist and former Air Force master sergeant, said one of the most important things about his role within the team is drawing from his experience as an Air Force retiree and sharing it with the team.

Though public affairs is known for developing relationships with the media and telling the base's story through various news outlets, the office is also responsible for inviting members of the local community to see the base's mission firsthand.

"Our role is to strengthen and maintain a good Air Force-community partnership with the base and surrounding communities," said Lisa Ham, chief of community relations. "We are here for them, to relay the story of Robins and the U.S. Air Force."

One of the many ways the office does this is through base tours for members of the local community such as clergy and ROTC cadets. 

The community relations mission also facilitates requests for Robins Airmen to speak at community events and volunteer in the local community such as providing test proctors for area schools.

The multimedia side of public affairs provides many services to promote the base's missions and morale at Robins such as photo services, graphics, creating signs and certificates, video and loaning out and setting up audio visual equipment, said Mike Malone, base multimedia manager.

For the photographers on the team, taking photos is about documenting each historical or news event that takes place on base, said Raymond Crayton, lead photographer for the photo lab.

"The best part about my job is that everyday is different than the day before. The position keeps me aware of what's happening on base and I get a better view of how the different organizations on base work together to accomplish the mission," said Tommy Horton, photographer.

Along with photo coverage, the base photo lab also provides passport pictures for Airmen and their families who are being stationed oversees, and certificates of appreciation for the spouses of our active duty members or to recognize the service of our Airmen, both civilian and active duty.

The job of the public affairs team is to promote the positive efforts of Airman on base and the positive mission of the Air Force.

"If anyone in the base community has a story to tell we want to hear about it and 'put them on display' so they can get the recognition they deserve for faithfully serving their country and this great community of Robins Air Force Base and Middle Georgia," said 1st Lt. Evan Lagasse, a public affairs officer.

The PA team recognizes the awesome responsibility they have to share the base's story with the rest of the world.

"I think all too often people in the base community have a misconception about public affairs. People tend to get nervous when public affairs is mentioned. What they need to realize is that we are there to help them," said Holly Birchfield, staff writer for the Rev-Up.

All the members of the team encourage members of the base community to contact the PA staff and let them know what you would like to see us cover.

"We can't do our job without the support and cooperation of the people that make Robins so great -- its people. Our eyes and ears aren't able to be everywhere on this massive installation. Our readers are our informants. We rely heavily on them to let us know what's going on," Mrs. Birchfield said.

So next time you see a member of the public affairs team, "Smile when we point the camera at you," said Claude Lazzara, a photographer with the base photo lab.