On a typical work day, Aziza Jackson’s day consists of writing and producing multimedia content about the SFPUC’s Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP) and wastewater initiatives. Jackson is a regular contributor of stories on the SFPUC newsroom, the agency’s employee newsletter and other digital storytelling platforms. Jackson also coordinates outreach efforts supporting construction projects and community events.
But for a week and a half, Jackson used her skills to support a different focus – the City’s COVID-19 response.
Jackson has some past experience with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) serving in a Media Relations Specialist role. When she was requested to serve in the City’s emergency operations center (EOC), she was happy to leverage her crisis communications experience to help out.
“At that point, we were all still learning more about COVID-19, so I definitely saw it as an opportunity to support the Joint Information Center (JIC) in any way I could because people were in need of vital information that could keep them safe and possibly save lives,” she shared.
Jackson served as a lead writer in the JIC to help develop messaging that was consistent with multiple public health orders, press releases and announcements coming from the Mayor’s Office. She was also responsible for updating key messaging each day to ensure information was clear, concise and accurate. The content her team produced was then disseminated on multiple platforms including frequently asked questions and outreach content on sf.gov, social media, the City’s AlertSF text messages, posters, flyers and other materials that were translated into Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, Vietnamese, Arabic and Russian.
“No two days are the same,” she said. “I worked on a small but mighty content team in charge of information coordination and production.”
Jackson shared she had the opportunity to work with City and County of San Francisco colleagues across various departments. “We came together and sort of shed our ‘agency’ skin to function as one, cohesive JIC unit,” she said. “It was great getting to know other colleagues and build working relationships with those I probably wouldn’t have otherwise gotten a chance to meet and work with.”
Jackson said her experience put things into perspective and brought her out of her day-to-day routine. In the JIC, she learned how to work under pressure and under some pretty extreme circumstances in a landscape that changes day-to-day or even hour-by-hour. Jackson said being in an emergency response role required everyone to bring their absolute best to the table and work together towards a common goal of providing accurate public information about the situation.
“I really commend the women and men who work as emergency responders,” she said. “Even right now, many people are sacrificing time with their families and sacrificing lots of sleep to keep people safe and healthy.”
Jackson shared she has family members who are relying on important information that affects their daily lives, just like everyone else. “My grandmother is 85 years young and I have an uncle with a heart condition. They both mean the world to me, so when we talk about ‘vulnerable populations’ and older adults who we are asking to stay at home, it really becomes personal to me.”