When I worked in San Diego, I had a fancy designer leather work bag my boss gave me as a thank you gift. When I started working at the City of Bend, that bag just didn’t work for public sector life and running around town for community meetings. I swapped it for a more rugged and versatile Patagonia bag (…when in Bend). What didn’t change, though, were the five must-have items I always keep in my work bag. I recommend other PR pros think about grabbing these items for their work bag of choice:
- Alcohol-based cleaning wipes. I carried these on me long before they were a COVID-19 necessity. Their versatility and convenience to keep things sanitary are pretty self-explanatory.
Pro tip: Because they are alcohol-based, you can use them to remove permanent marker or adhesives.
True story: I was working in a joint information center and our lead public information officer was writing in permanent marker on sheets of paper taped to the wall. She ran off the paper and marked the wall of the recently-renovated meeting room. Uh oh. Cleaning wipes to the rescue!
- Blue tape. Painter’s blue tape comes in really handy. Venues appreciate that it doesn’t mark up their walls when you need to post something. And it’s a handy tape option that’s easy to use without scissors.
Pro tip: It doesn’t leave residue on carpet.
True story: I’ve used painter’s tape to secure loose A/V cords at events more times than I can count, without leaving a mark. Safety first!
- Dry erase markers. Sometimes we just need to write or draw in large format and don’t have large pieces of paper handy.
Pro tip: Windows and conference room tabletops make great marker boards.
True story: When I was supporting an international leadership meeting, my very visual boss needed to show me what she was thinking. I pulled out my dry erase marker and we walked to the nearest window so she could sketch out what she needed. Picture that!
- Assorted binder clips. There’s nothing worse than trying to keep stacks of loose paper unwrinkled and organized when you’re on the go. Have binder clips handy to help.
Pro tip: They clip more than just paper.
True story: When a TV reporter’s mic clip broke while setting up for a field interview, I offered a binder clip to secure the mic to my spokesperson’s lapel. Audio on!
- Ruled index cards. I like having 3” x 5” ruled index cards handy to take notes, write talking points, post (using the blue tape from above, of course) and easily pass out if others need something to write on.
Pro tip: Index cards are rigid enough to stand up when folded.
True story: I was in a community meeting and the organizers forgot to make name tags for the participants. We were able to fold index cards in half (hot dog-style), write our names on the un-ruled side, and set them out on the table to use as nameplates during the meeting. Nice to meet you!
If you’re like me and still working from home, now is a great time to clean out your work bag and stock it up. Use your PRSA member discount for Office Depot to save some money doing it. You’ll be glad you did when you’re prepared for the next unexpected issue.
Joshua P. Romero, MA is the Communications Manager for the City of Bend and serves as a Communications Co-Director on the board of PRSA Oregon. For him, strategic communications is about educating, empowering and engaging his community. When he’s not working or volunteering, he likes to get outside with his husband and goldendoodle to enjoy all the outdoor activities Central Oregon has to offer.