By Michael Downes, 811 Magazines

OHIO811 continues to increase outreach to excavators and the general public and their newest hire looks to contribute toward the goal of reaching every resident in Ohio.

Jeff Kursman, senior director of external operations joins an experienced and highly effective team at OHIO811 and wants to help increase visibility and public awareness across the state while continuing to spread the central message to call 811 or go online before you dig.

He comes to OHIO811 with some serious public relations chops — including operating his own successful consulting firm in Ohio for several years. But his PR experience is just the beginning.

“I’ve had a 25-year career focused on public relations, marketing, communications, public education and government affairs,” Jeff said.

A New England native, Jeff, along with his wife and two kids, has lived in Ohio since 1999, initially working in the financial services industry, which he’s done on and off for nearly 20 years. His methods include looking at long-term strategies to raise awareness with homeowners, as well as more direct campaigns targeting professional excavators throughout the state.

“Most people think of marketing and advertising as requiring an immediate action or response,” he said. “There may be cases where that happens, but more common is building education for when an individual gets to the time when they are going to dig, they’re armed with the knowledge they need.”

While Jeff hasn’t worked directly in utility or damage prevention in the past, he is a quick study of new industries and is excited to be involved in an effort as important to communities throughout Ohio as damage prevention. He’s picking up the lingo quickly in his new position and has come to appreciate how important damage prevention is to keeping the residents of Ohio safe and keeping vital utilities flowing throughout the state.

“Right now, I’m doing a lot of listening. I’m working my way through learning as much as I can as quickly as I can,” he said.

A team player, Jeff is on a mission to do his part of getting to know each member organization and learn how best to help share the importance of damage prevention with the communities they serve.

And that’s one of the wonderful things he’s experienced since he’s joined the OHIO811 team — the willingness for all the member organizations to come together and exchange ideas to forward the message of safety and damage prevention.

“Ultimately my goal is to reach as large a percentage as we can, or all, of the 11.4 million residents of Ohio with a message to call 811 or go online to OHIO811.org before you dig,” he said. “It’s an action that’s more than just required by law — it’s an action that protects your health and safety, as well as being financially responsible,” he added.

And aside from all that, it’s just the right thing to do.

Welcome aboard Jeff!