Stacy Beard started working as Clayton’s Public Information Officer in September after working as an on air reporter for a local televion station. The job transition has been a learning experience.
Q: Prior to becoming Clayton’s Public Information Officer you worked as an on-air reporter for WRAL for four years. What was that job like?
Exciting. I had done broadcast work for about 15 years. WRAL was a wonderful place to work where I got to work with great and very talented people. But, what I loved about that job I also hated about that job. I never knew what to expect every day. Every day was something new and you didn’t know what was ahead. That was great because I could end up telling a story about a family rescued from a house fire in Chapel Hill, or I could be down in Fayetteville talking about a military homecoming, or I could be talking about the Raleigh city council. You tried to plan your day, but you never really knew what the news day would bring. I loved that, but then when I had my son, who is two, that unpredictability that I loved so much became a challenge because I never knew when I’d be home, and could I pick him up from day care on time. I never really actively looked for a different job, but when this opportunity came up, I just said I have to try. I knew it would be wonderful getting to work in the town where I live.
Q: You mentioned being in broadcast for about 15 years. Where were you before?
Before WRAL I was in the Norfolk, Virginia Beach market. That’s where I met my husband. Before that I was in Morehead City. Before that I was in Montana. That was my first real job in television. I had done an internship in Topeka, KS while I was in college at Northwestern, but that was just for three months.
I sent out a bunch of resumes after I graduated and just hoped someone would call back. Two places called me back. Rosewell, New Mexico and Kalispell, Montana. Kalispell is way up north close to the Canadian border.
The New Mexico news director didn’t like my hair and asked me if I would cut it during the interview process. He also wanted me to drive my own car. Then I worried that I passed up the only opportunity that I’d ever be given. Then Montana called and offered me $14,000. I thought that was the most money I’d ever heard about earning in my life, so I was like, “Absolutely.” It was beautiful there. I woke up to mountains. I learned how to ski. They have Glacier National Park there. I did stories on grizzly bears. It was a wonderful first experience and I learned that I loved doing television.
Q: What brought you back to the east coast?
I got the itch to be closer to home. I’m from Philadelphia originally, but my family had moved to New Jersey. Montana was a little too far away.
Q: You mentioned that while in Virginia you met your husband, Cory.
Yes. He’s a photographer. He works for a TV station in Raleigh. We met in the station at Norfolk. We both got jobs and started the same day in Raleigh. It’s very hard for couples in broadcast to get jobs in the same city. We knew it was meant to be. Our son, Spencer, was born here.
Q: What is the job of a Public Information Officer like?
It is not what I expected. It’s been a huge transition. I assumed the job of a PIO was easy. I’ve been overwhelmed with all that is involved in making sure that the public is aware of everything that is going on in Clayton.
I’ll think I know what I’m going to do for the day, but then the police will have made an arrest that we want the public to know about and suddenly I’m trying to update the Facebook pages and the website and get the information out to the media. Perhaps the public works department is doing a road improvement project and I need to be schooled on what it takes to grade a road.
It’s all so positive. I feel blessed to be in Clayton. Clayton is not a sleepy, small town. There is a lot going on here.
Q: What challenges are you facing as the Clayton PIO?
I’m trying to figure out how are people finding out about what is going on here. Are they reading the Clayton News-Star? Are they going the to the website or the Facebook page? Are they hearing about it at the coffee shop or their Rotary Club? I’m learning that there is no one answer. I’m figuring out that the news has to be in all those venues.
Q: What are your goals for the position?
I want to make sure people know what is going on before it happens so they can participate and be a part of the community. I’m so impressed by the people of Clayton. They are so hardworking. I want to let the public know about the people in our local government. I want the community to know that they can come to anyone with their questions or concerns. I wasn’t hired to be a wall that restricts communication between the public and the governmental officials. Anyone should feel that they can pick up the phone and call the official that they need. I really want to be responsive and let people know that we are listening and are here.
I also want to combat the Raleigh mentality. We have concerts and movies in the park. There is a misconception about Raleigh being the place for fun. We have it here. Clayton is a happening town.
Correspondent Holly Lock