A PIO Reflection Panel: Experiences, Tips and Lessons Learned

A PIO Reflection Panel: Experiences, Tips and Lessons Learned
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-09-22
Unit 1Presentation Materials: A PIO Reflection Panel
Unit 2Transcript: A PIO Reflection Panel
Unit 3Workbook: A PIO Reflection Panel
Unit 4Recording: A PIO Reflection Panel

In a fast-paced and highly critical world where information and misinformation spread in a matter of seconds, having a Public Information Officer (PIO) for law enforcement agencies is no longer a luxury but a necessity. This webinar explores PIO’s experiences, tips, and lessons on how to best navigate the role and the different challenges it tends to pose.

Weighing in on these points are this session’s panel consist of:

  • Steven A. Smith Jr., Public Information Officer, Albany Police Department in New York
  • Philip Smith, Assistant Police Chief and former Special Events Coordinator under the Public Information Office, Evansville Police Department
  • Katie Nelson, Social Media and Public Relations Coordinator, Mountain View Police Department in Northern California

Topics tackled in this discussion include:

  • A brief overview of each of the speaker’s backgrounds, how they got into PIO work, and misconceptions they had before getting into the job.
  • Realizations they had and fundamental lessons learned soon after being in a PIO role.
  • The PIO’s central role in modern policing in terms of providing accurate information, shaping the public narrative, and fostering trust between the agency and the community.
  • Where to find the people who can provide the skills, creativity, and innovativeness required in the role.
  • The PIO’s need for independence to be truly effective in their role, especially during crisis situations.
  • The value of self-care for PIOs who typically have to always be on-call to reduce the risk of burnout and remain effective in their job.
  • The benefit of leveraging social media to reach out to the community and provide pertinent updates and information.
  • The importance of internal communication to keep people within the organization updated and how this consequentially translates into an informed external community.
  • The balancing act of being aggressive while remaining responsible when getting information out to the public to take control of the public narrative.
  • Challenges that PIOs tend to encounter in terms of staying on top of what’s happening, getting timely updates and information, and the negativity that comes from the public’s feedback.
  • The perks and advantages of being the PIO in terms of building community trust and enhancing law enforcement legitimacy.
  • The key competencies PIOs should have as it relates to relationship-building, communication skills, critical thinking, command and management of an audience, and on-camera skills.
  • A rundown of the different types of training worth having for PIOs particularly those involving branding and image, handling the media, providing thorough information and messaging, and social media.
  • Vital advice shared by PIOs to get ugly early and information overload, practice, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and get away from cop-speak.
  • The value in finding up-and-coming people to enhance the public information role and as part of succession planning.
  • Ways that police leadership can assist PIOs in their job by providing them with autonomy, seeking their insights in decision-making, allowing them access to opportunities to train and network, and having them centrally located and directly reporting to the chief.

Questions from the webinar participants are about:

  • The benefits of face-to-face interviews for the media and the PIO.
  • The size of the teams the PIOs are working with.
  • The life expectancy in a PIO role and the turnover rate.
  • The value of internal communication for the PIO.
  • Providing alerts and warnings to the communities as part of the PIO’s job.
  • Engaging with media outlets to correct misinformation.


Other Webinars with this Presenter



Or click here to view and register for other upcoming PIO, Social Media and Communications webinars on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Great real-world experience!” — Alice
  • “IACP PIO information that I will be looking into and FBI LEEDA Master PIO training. — Jason
  • How important it is to get ahead of the narrative and ensure that the PIO has direct access to the Chief and is empowered, independent, and has a seat at the table.” — Jimmie
  • “I liked the part about shooting your own press conference (even if no one else is there) and providing to media to edit into their reporting. Great presenters today, valuable info even though my office is (non-law enforcement) govt public affairs. Thank you!” — Karen
  • “Incredible presentation and thank you to all our law enforcement officers who now must work under extreme rules, regulations, and pressures that are hampering their abilities to really do their jobs. I believe in our officers and thank them ALL for taking on such an incredibly difficult public service job.” — Kim
  • “Katie Nelson rocks!” — Rick
  • “The presenters and the host/moderator were wonderful! Please have them back!” — Sarah
  • “It was fantastic to hear all three speakers and very informative.” — Shelby


Additional Resources
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Thoughts on Earning Community Trust from Katie Nelson
Katie Nelson always has so many great insights to share during her webinars. This was just one that […]
1 year ago
Thoughts about the Importance of Employee Communications from Steve Smith
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1 year ago
After the Webinar: A PIO Reflection Panel. Q&A with the Presenters
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