2008 NIOA Training Conference
August 24-27, 2008
Nugget is a luxurious 1,600-room hotel with two 29-story towers featuring
sweeping views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A full-service salon and
eight restaurants are located on site. Please visit
for more information. You must call the hotel directly at 1-800-648-1177.
$695 for members and non-members registering.
here to register.
Click here to download a letter from NIOA
President Judy Pal to your organization's chief executive that may
help justify your training request to attend this year's conference.
EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION CLOSES JULY 1, 2008
REGISTRATION CLOSED AUGUST 1, 2008
About the Conference |
Registration | Hotel | The City
Airport Shuttle/Rentals |
Conference Agenda |
Our seminars focus on the needs of public
safety information officers. We offer unrivaled networking opportunities
to meet, and exchange ideas with, fellow information officers from your
region and across America and Canada.
Registration forms must be received by Friday, August 1. All registration
fees must be paid in full by conference check-in on Sunday, August 24 or
Monday, August 25. We accept checks, money orders or cash at check-in.
Credit cards or purchase orders are not accepted. No refunds after Friday,
August 1. Checks received without a completed registration form will be
The conference fee covers certain meals
including, a continental breakfast Sunday-Wednesday, Sunday’s reception,
Tuesday’s luncheon and Wednesday’s closing event. The conference fee does
not cover hotel registration. Attendees must contact the hotel directly to
make their own reservations.
Conference check-in will begin at 7:00 am
on Sunday and Monday mornings. If you have questions, please contact Lisa
McNeal at firstname.lastname@example.org or at
A registration form must be received in
order to be registered for the conference.
- You can register now and pay at the door!
Members - $695
Non-Members - $695
- PIO 101 & Advanced Class Only $195
The J.A. Nugget is a luxurious 1,600-room
hotel with two 29-story towers featuring sweeping views of the Sierra
Nevada Mountains. A full-service salon and eight restaurants are located
on site. Please visit
http://www.janugget.com for more information.
The Nugget is offering discounted room rates for conference attendees at
$86 a night (plus taxes). The NIOA block of rooms will be released on July
24. After this time, rooms may not be available. You must call the hotel
directly at 1-800-648-1177 and mention NIOA when registering to receive
the conference rate. This special rate is available three days before and
three days after the conference for those who want to come early or stay
Reno, the “Biggest Little City in the World,”
is the gateway to Nevada’s scenic northwest corner and is just a short
distance from Lake Tahoe and Northern California. For more information
about the Reno/Sparks/Lake Tahoe area, go to:
The Nugget has a free shuttle that runs
to/from the Reno airport every day from 5:45 am to 9:00 pm. Airport
pickups are at :15 and :45, hotel pickups are at :00 and :30.
The dress for all conference sessions is
professional business casual. Please, no t-shirts
or shorts. Nametags must be worn visibly at all times for admittance into
schedule and presentations are tentative and subject to change without
notice. Check back here for any changes or updates.
Conference check-in will begin Sunday and
Monday at 7:00 am.
Each session Sunday-Wednesday begins promptly at 8:30 am.
Sunday, August 24
Basic and Advanced PIO Training
Tom Olshanksi, United States Fire Administration, Director of External
Affairs and Program Manager of the National Preparedness Network (PREPnet)
Once again, the NIOA is offering a full day of training for both new and
experienced PIOs, conducted by Tom Olshanski. A sought-after lecturer,
Olshanksy is a certified trainer with FEMA and conducts the Advanced PIO
courses for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
New PIOs should take advantage of the entire session, since basic topics
will be covered in the morning. More seasoned PIOs will want to attend in
the afternoon to pick up the latest on advanced media strategies. This
training is free for those registered for the entire conference, or $195
for those who wish to attend this session only.
5:00 – 5:30 pm
New Member Orientation Meeting
This gathering is a chance for new members to meet the Board of Directors,
learn about the organization and the conference.
5:30 – 6:00 pm
Attendees have the opportunity to meet with your Regional Director and
other members from your area to network and discuss issues of mutual
6:30 – 8:00 pm
This reception is open to all members and spouses, offering a chance to
make new friends and renew acquaintances in a relaxed atmosphere. No
children please, alcohol will be served – wine and beer is provided –
there will also be a cash bar.!
8:30 – 9:00 am
Colors: Nevada Highway Patrol
Benediction: Chaplain S. Arvin, Reno Fire Department
Remarks: Mayors of Sparks and/or Reno, Nevada
9:00 – 10:15 am
Where is Steve Fossett?
Chuck Allen, Nevada Highway Patrol; Cynthia Ryan, Nevada Civil Air
On September 3, 2007, millionaire
adventurer and world-record setting pilot Steve Fossett disappeared after
taking off in a single-engine plane from the private airstrip on hotel
mogul Barron Hilton’s ranch near Yerington. At one point, more than 40
Civil Air Patrol, military and private airplanes and helicopters were
aloft over an area that covered 20,000 square miles, and scores of
searchers went on foot into deep, brushy canyons to look for Fossett who
has never been found. After a month, the public search was called off.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen, and Civil Air Patrol Major
Cynthia Ryan will talk about the case and the continuous hunger for
information about this incident.
10:15 – 10:30 am
10:30 am – Noon
Social Media: Bloggers, Spammers and Scammers
Mary Grady, Los Angeles Police Department & Rich Palmer, Washington
Township Fire Department
The “new media” revolution/evolution has created even greater
responsibilities for public information officers. In addition to dealing
with mainstream print and broadcast outlets, there is an increasing number
of online media forces that public information officers must take into
account, including bloggers. Some agencies have even taken to offering
their own blogs. Mary Grady, Commander of the LAPD’s Public Information
Office and Rich Palmer, VP of the NIO and PIO at Washington Township Fire
Department, will discuss how the new social media is affecting your
agency, what has worked well, and what has not, including information
about their own blogging efforts.
Noon – 1:15 pm
Lunch on your own
1:15 – 2:15 pm
When Your Department Becomes the News
Anne Schwartz, Milwaukee Police Department
It happens all too often – a member of your department becomes the lead
story on the evening news. Anne Schwartz from the Milwaukee Police
Department provides information how to do damage control when your
department is the news, that will help maintain the department’s image and
2:15 – 2:30 pm
2:30 – 4:00 pm
Minnesota Bridge Collapse
Christine Krueger, Minnesota Department of Public Safety
Last August without warning, the West 35 Freeway bridge near downtown
Minneapolis collapsed sending drivers to a watery death. Christine Krueger
from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety shares how her department
dealt with the never-ending media barrage following the worst bridge
collapse in U.S. history.
Tuesday, August 26
8:30 – 10:00 am
The Magic Bridging Solution
Richard Brundage is widely recognized as one of this country’s premiere
risk communicators and media response trainers. He is an award winning
television director, former anchor, correspondent and author of the
critically acclaimed book, “The Heart In Communicating”. Mr. Brundage has
created a simple and effective way to respond to any question the media
may ask – and get YOUR key points across. From international press
secretaries, PR executives and U.S. Ambassadors, Brundage teaches a host
of techniques no PIO should be without. His proven methods literally
guarantee the media will use your messages. His clients have called it
“new millennium thinking” about how we all communicate.
10:00 – 10:15 am
10:15 – 11:30 am
Communication Concerns in a Pandemic Crisis
Dan Rutz, MPH, Centers For Disease Control
It seems that almost all crisis communications simulations in the past
year have focused on pandemic issues – whether it is the Avian Flu, a
biological chemical or the outbreak of a virus. Dan Rutz, MPH, a Senior
Communications Advisor from the National Center for Health Marketing at
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide a tactical
outline about how agencies should communicate with the public and with
each other in these unique and difficult circumstances.
11:30 am – Noon
Business Meeting and Election of Officers
Noon – 1:15 pm
Building Trust – When The Media is Against You
Keynote Speaker - Gerald Baron, Author “Now is Too Late”
Building trust with the public and key stakeholders has always been a high
priority for emergency services leaders. But it has never been so
difficult to do. There are many reasons – a primary one is the negative
news reporting about large-scale response, particularly following
Hurricane Katrina. We live in an instant news world where everyone
carrying a cell phone camera can become an on-the-scene reporter. There
are three essentials to effective communication today – speed, the ability
to communicate directly to multiple audiences, and transparency. This
presentation will explore these challenges in depth and reveal how
emergency response leaders from large federal agencies to local first
responder agencies are taking the escalating demands head on with new
strategies and technologies.
1:15 – 1:30 pm
Experience level notations for breakout sessions
are suggestions only. Attendees are welcome to attend any and all sessions
at their own discretion.
Track A/0-3 Years Experience Building Internal Trust
Judy Pal, Savannah - Chatham Metro
Police and NIOA President
Congratulations, you’ve been named PIO for your agency. Now what? No
matter if you are an “outsider” coming in, or a veteran being thrust into
the position – you are now in a job that is looked at somewhat
suspiciously by your colleagues. If you are a former member of the media –
you in fact, are the enemy! Some will think you have the “cushiest” job in
the organization, while others think you have become a “rat” to the media.
Learn how to overcome these internal issues and simple tools to help
demonstrate how the PIO can help individuals and the organization.
Track B/3-7 Years Experience Line of Duty Deaths
and the Public Information Officer
Andy Hill, Phoenix Police Department
Handling the death of one of your own may
be the most difficult task a PIO will face. There is so much emotion
involved, along with the possibility of a manhunt for a suspect, a
grieving family, a stunned organization, and a querying media. Addressing
all the issues surrounding the handling of the initial incident, along
with internal and external communications on many levels, can make or
break the organizational and community trust in the PIO. Andy Hill from
the Phoenix Police Department will cover all these issues, as well as
provide a template for turning tragedy into a positive image of the
organization that suffers the loss.
Track C/7+ Years of Experience Mentoring New PIOs
Tammy L. Chatman, PIO and Professional Relations/Marketing Manager, Flight
For Life-Northern Illinois
You can do your job as a PIO with your eyes closed. You also know there
isn’t a book that covers every situation PIO’s face. So how do you educate
and mentor a new PIO? A well-trained PIO can provide you needed assistance
in a crisis, coverage for days off and become a valued addition to your
staff. NIOA Regional Director Tammy Chatman will give you some great ideas
on how to mentor a new staff member.
2:30 – 2:45pm
2:45 – 4:00 pm
Track A/0-3 Years of Experience Effective News Release Writing Workshop
Andrea Summers, Delaware Office of Highway Safety
Press releases, news releases or media releases, no matter what you
call them, they are one of the primary methods that PIOs use to get the
message out. Nevertheless, why don’t they always get used? In this
session, Andrea Summers, PIO for Delaware’s Office of Highway Safety and a
former reporter herself, will explain the secrets to writing a more
effective release, with titles designed to catch an editor or reporter’s
eye, and leads that will make the media want to cover your story, your
way. You’ll learn the formula for writing a news release and how to
identify and avoid common mistakes found in poorly written versions.
Finally, you’ll learn how, when and under what circumstances to issue
releases in a way that is to your agency’s advantage. Once you know these
easy tips, you’ll walk away with one more tool under your belt to make
your agency stand out.
Track B/3-7 Years of Experience Building
Chief James D. Fox and Lou Thurston, Newport News Police Department
Have you ever asked yourself why the media keeps “coming after” certain
agencies and why these agencies may not have the support of their
communities? Probably the most important word in ensuring good media
relations and community support is “trust.” Chief James D. Fox and PIO Lou
Thurston of the Newport News, Virginia Police Department will explain how
they, with the help of their entire department, have built both a trusting
and working relationship with their local media. They will share how that
relationship led to support from both the media and the community
following a justified police shooting that resulted in the death of an
unarmed suspect and a dramatic increase in homicides last year.
Track C/7+Years of Experience Victims and the
Mike Tellef, Peoria Fire and Police Department and NIOA Past President
Victims are a major part of the incidents we handle and as a PIO you must
deal with them with great sensitivity. Mike Tellef, NIOA past president
and PIO for the Peoria, Arizona Police and Fire Departments will provide
an overview of what has worked well when working with the victims,
investigators and the media as well as discussing importance of knowing
Victims Rights Laws in your state.
Wednesday, August 27
BEST PRACTICE CASE
8:30 – 9:15 am
The Darren Mack Manhunt
Deputy Police Chief Steve Pitts and Steve Frady, Reno Fire and
Police Departments, Reno, NV
National media attention was quickly drawn to downtown Reno late in the
morning of June 12, 2006, when Family Court Judge Chuck Weller was wounded
in an apparent sniper style shooting at a Washoe County Court facility.
Within a short time that morning, police were tipped to the possible
murder of a Reno woman and a link between the two crimes. What ensued was
an 11-day international manhunt for accused sniper/wife murderer Darren
Mack who was apprehended in Mexico. Reno Police Department Deputy Chief
Steve Pitts and Police-Fire Information Officer Steve Frady discuss the
investigation, manhunt and the intense media interest in the case.
9:20 – 10:05 am
Pete O’Leary, Durham Fire Dept. Durham, NH
After an investigation of a church fire involving multiple agencies, Pete
O’Leary was told, and relayed to the media, there was no indication this
was a case of arson. Days later, and while NIOA-member O’Leary was on
vacation, it was indeed confirmed to the media that the Fire PIO had
“misspoken”, and that the fire was indeed deliberately set. Pete will
discuss strategies he used to save his reputation with the media without
losing face externally and internally.
10:15 – 11:00 am
Matthew Stanley, Savannah Fire Department
This past spring, the quiet evening air in Chatham County was destroyed by
a deafening explosion. The Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth,
close to Savannah, Georgia had exploded. Dozens of people were hurt and
many others feared killed or missing. The scene was chaotic at best with
multiple agencies and jurisdictions coming to the aid of the workers and
people of the small community. Federal agencies worked with state,
municipal and local groups – full-time firefighters worked with volunteers
– and everyone had something to say. Veteran PIO Matthew Stanley of
Savannah Fire Rescue was in the middle and came out as the lead
spokesperson. Learn how he dealt with the multiple messages and worked to
combine the voices of many.
11:05 – 11:50 am
Joseph Hopple – Sussex County EMS, DE
A volunteer fire company ambulance carrying a Sussex County EMS paramedic
was returning from a hospital. The ambulance was sitting at a four-way
stop when an SUV left the roadway and struck the ambulance. A paramedic
was declared dead on major web sites when he was very much alive. New
media (the web and blogs) presented a host of difficulties because of the
speed of the spread of misinformation. Joseph will discuss how using
multiple PIOs allowed him to implement rumor control quickly and get
correct information to the public.
Noon – 1:30 pm
Lunch on your own
1:30 – 3:00 pm
California Wildfires/Mixed Messages Spread as Fast as Flames
Matt Streck, CalFire
Matt Streck of Cal Fire was the lead information officer for the
multiple wild land fires that occurred in Southern California last year.
Streck will talk about coordinating local, state and national news media
as well as being part of the joint information center. He will share
valuable lessons learned from these experiences.
3:00 – 3:15 pm
3:15 – 4:30 pm
Caring for the Caregiver: Surviving the Stress
Chaplain George Doebler, University of
Tennessee Medical Center
Being around the big incidents and adrenaline-pumping events…although it
is one of the main reasons people in our business become PIOs, it is also
the main reason we burn out. The stress does not come entirely from
external sources, but internal demands as well. In this session, Chaplain
George Doebler from the University of Tennessee Medical Center will
provide important tips on how to maintain our emotional balance when
forces are pushing from every angle.
Doebler spent more than 10 years at the National Institute of Mental
Health and has spent the last 20 years counseling doctors and other
medical professionals at the medical center’s Level I Trauma Center. In
addition to training chaplain residents, Doebler spends much of his time
lecturing to groups across the country about dealing with stress. If the
NIOA could mandate attendance at one session at the conference–this would
This is one last chance to visit and unwind before heading home. This
casual evening closing event will include an informal dinner and the Big
Raffle. Make sure you stick around through Wednesday night or you’ll miss
a great finale to a memorable conference!
If you have any questions, e-mail Executive Director Lisa McNeal at