COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS: An Introduction to your Public Information CoordinatorMar 26, 2021 10:07AM ● By Editor
Photo: Cook County MN
By Nick Cusick, Cook County & North Shore Health Public Information Coordinator
After enduring the COVID-19 pandemic for as long as we have, the need for and importance of quality public communication and health services has never been greater.
That’s what I wrote in my cover letter in November when I applied for the public information coordinator role — a new, shared position between the Cook County Government and North Shore Health. Four months later a lot has changed as more than 50 percent of our county’s population has now received at least one dose of vaccine. With those positive signs and restrictions dialing back, it’s hard not to feel hopeful. But even today, what I wrote in that cover letter back in the fall is just as true.
As public information coordinator, my job for both organizations will be to develop and coordinate communication strategies and programs, create information about available services, media relations, management of visual identity and brand while ensuring efforts are cohesive and consistent. A little more than a month on the job, I continue to get integrated into both organizations with my first goal being to learn as much as I can about operations and workflow while finding ways to take work off of others’ plates. I’m already doing so by writing and distributing press releases, doing web site work and helping update the Cook County Coronavirus Response Hub, to name a few.
Although county government and North Shore Health have different needs and serve different roles in our community, there has been plenty of crossover as the pandemic remains at the forefront, including weekly COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center calls, vaccination events and more. Already, my work feels important and rewarding. With that said, it’s been exciting to begin projects that aren’t in direct response to the pandemic. Coincidentally, I’m beginning work on new websites for both organizations and am diving into strategic planning for the County.
A frequent visitor to Cook County over the years, I always had my ears open listening for the right opportunity that could bring me here permanently. I learned a long time ago that this is a special place. That may be in part because of its breathtaking natural attractions such as Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, but it’s also because of the sense of community, the creativity and hospitality of the people who call this place home. Finding an opportunity to join that community and work dedicated to improving the quality of life for you, your family and your neighbors is why I wanted this job.
The other, perhaps most important responsibility of my new role will be public engagement. My goal is to better connect you to both Cook County and North Shore Health. Delivering messages to the public is one piece of that, but listening to you is an even more important part of that process as the path to successful communication is a two-way street. So I’m excited to meet you. As much as I’d like for that to happen more organically at community events, there are still ways for us to safely connect. I encourage you to give me a call or send me an email and introduce yourself. Let’s grab some coffee and chat via Zoom about your favorite Boundary Waters lake or where to find the best meal in town. Let’s talk about county services and local health care. Let’s talk about what public information is important to you. And when the time is right we’ll do that in person, too. I look forward to it.
Contact Nick Cusick by phone at 218-220-5536 or by email at [email protected].County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service