The National Association of Government Communicators is running it's comms school in Louisville, KY May 10 - 12 and as official media partners for the event, we've had the great opportunity to hear from the speakers who will be delivering a selection of amazing sessions.
What is your session for NAGC called?
22 Communications Tips to Make You Dangerous
Without giving too much away about your session, what do you hope to cover that is of benefit to attendees of the NAGC comms school?
Attendees who want to improve their communications efforts will receive fun, entertaining ways to maximize effectiveness.
Tell us a little about what you do and how you got there
I am the chief communications officer (CCO) and director of the Communications Consolidated Unit at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Rocky Mountain Network. I am responsible for the largest continental U.S. territory in the VA, spanning over 540,000 sq. miles across 10 states, serving more than 322,000 Veteran-patients at 8 Health Care Systems (hospitals) and 123 additional sites of care, with more than 16,000 employees. Prior to a career in communications, I served for 20 years as a U.S. Army officer, deploying to locations around the globe.
What do you love about your job?
I love leading people and organizations to forge new relationships, increase profitability, gain visibility, and maximize impact.
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Working for the federal government and negotiating the bureaucracy sometimes brings obstacles and red tape that are difficult to overcome, but I'm willing to accept those challenges.
What are some of the more memorable events you’ve had to deal with in your role and what lessons did you learn?
Some of my more memorable events include: Nominating an employee for NAGC Communicator of the Year - and having him win! Helping a colleague get promoted and move "up and out" of our organization so that she could flourish. Serving as the Communications Director of the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic and being inspired by the courage and resiliency of our most severely disabled veterans.
What is it about communications, media or crisis comms that interests you so much?
I really appreciate being able to accurately and meaningfully tell the story and the impact of an organization, trying to find the most effective ways to connect to stakeholders and audiences.
Can you give some advice to those who want to start a career in Government communications?
Learn how to write. It's the most essential, most common, most foundational, and most effective way to communicate. All other components of communication begin with solid writing.
What are your favorite tools you use to do your job more effectively?
I value the use of storytelling, especially through video, to convey messages to our audience. Dynamic video content can be memorable and effective if done properly and creatively.
Are there any books, podcasts or any other resources you would recommend for the comms pro?
Join a public relations professional organization, like Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) or National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC). We all need each other for encouragement, creativity, challenge, and reinforcement.
What would you say to anyone in a leadership role about having a PIO who might not have one?
A communications professional is an essential force multiplier for any government agency. Without one, the organization is destined for failure. With one, exponentially successful opportunities abound.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about, recommend or promote?
Set measurable communications goals for yourself or your team. In the PR world it is sometimes nebulous; however, with a little ingenuity we can measure anything we do and set a bar for success.