Posts in Category: News


Monday, July 23, 2018 4:22:00 PM Categories: Awards of Excellence NACIO NACo News

Click here for the video of the presentation.


Posted by Tristan Friday, February 24, 2017 12:51:00 PM Categories: NACIO News

Click here to watch the February webinar!


Monday, February 13, 2017 10:50:00 AM Categories: NACIO News

NACIO Members,

Please take note of the following informational updates from NACIO:

NEW ListServ Address for Members to Use: 

As part of membership, NACIO offers a listserv that is available for members to utilize in seeking helpful information from their peers within communications/public information roles.  Please note that the listserv address has changed to

Those responding to listserv messages are reminded to do so in a separate e-mail.  Hitting “reply” will cause a response message to go to all participants/members of the listserv. 

Register Now for the February Membership Webinar:

The February 2017 NACIO webinar will take place on Wednesday, February 22 at 1 p.m. (CST) and is titled “Top Website Design and Citizen Communication Trends of 2017” lead by two guest presenters from Civic Plus. Learn the hottest website design and citizen communication trends you can expect to see in 2017. Stay informed on the latest technology tools and trends to ensure you are continuing to communicate and engage with citizens in creative, innovative, and impactful ways.  Registration and additional information is available at;

Awards of Excellence Competition:

The annual NACIO Awards of Excellence Competition is moving to an online format and the call for entries will be coming out soon for those wishing to enter the contest.   Please stay tuned for a separate message to be sent with all the details.  A special thank you to Florida Association of Counties staff Cragin Mosteller and Tracy Kusmierz, along with First Vice President Lori Hudson for their efforts in putting together the awards contest.

Membership Renewal Reminder:

As a friendly reminder, if you have not done so – please get your NACIO membership renewals in as soon as possible.  We have several outstanding members who have not yet renewed for 2017.  Thank you, your membership is appreciated and if you have questions please refer them to

Take Part in NACIO Events at the NACo Legislative Conference:

For those traveling to the NACo Legislative Conference taking place February 25 to March 1, 2017 -  listed below is a line-up of NACIO-related activities.  NACIO will also be hosting a booth to engage conference attendees on communications-related topics and help educate about the mission of our organization. 


Sunday, February 26:

  • NACIO Business Meeting – 10 a.m. Hoover, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
  • NACIO Group Networking Lunch – 12 p.m. (on your own) Stone’s Throw Restaurant, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel If possible, please RSVP to Jessica Beyer if you plan to attend.
  • NACIO Roundtable Discussion – 1:30 p.m.  Hoover, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel


Monday, February 27:

  • NACIO-sponsored Workshop – 1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. Navigating a New Era of Crisis Communications:  How to Manage Non-traditional Events Roosevelt 1/2/3 Presented by: Rebecca Carter, Mecklenberg County, NC and NACIO Second Vice President Donnell Preskey Hushka, North Dakota Association of County Commissioners and NACIO Board of Directors Regional Representative


As always, please feel free to contact me with questions at

Thank you - 


New reality show about county government 

Across the County Line to begin production in 2016
Posted by Todd McGee Thursday, October 1, 2015 9:25:00 AM Categories: News

Stories and Characters Wanted for A New TV show all about Counties

The producers of a show in development called “Across the County Line” are looking for big stories and big characters for an upcoming television series that will focus on the work done every day by America’s county governments. County government works and we want to help you tell your stories!

The Big Project - Our main focus for the show will be showcasing big, long-term and effective projects undertaken by county government. These can be projects that are on the drawing board and still in the planning stages, projects that are just getting started, long-term projects that are still in the works or projects that are nearing completion. Some of these will be told over a four-show arc, while others may require as many as 12 shows to tell their story. In many cases we will come back to re-visit the projects and check in on their progress and their completion.

We expect to begin production in the spring/summer of 2016. As you pitch your county stories, bear in mind that they should be either starting or underway at that time.

These projects will need to be large, visual and preferably outdoor projects and television ready that will unfold over time. On some level there must be conflict in getting these projects going. What’s most important to the producers is that the projects include some level of management and cooperation with citizens to get these projects moving forward. (For example; installing a new pension plan wouldn’t work because that is mostly done on a computer and indoors and wouldn’t have a big effect on all citizens. But building a new highway spur where the county would have to buy out reluctant, long-time homeowners would be a project worth considering.)

See the video

We have prepared a short sizzle reel that gives you a flavor of what the show is about and an idea of how the show will look. It runs just over 3 minutes and is available here: the password is ACL (all caps).
County Star - The show will make a “star” out of a county worker. We want our “county star” to be at the project manager level, that person who is out in the field interacting with the laborers, the supervisors, and with county executives and county managers, but also with county residents and citizens. Our cameras will follow our “county star” from their office to other county and government offices they interface with, county meetings, public hearings and out into the field. We want viewers to get to know them so our cameras will also follow them home and to places as varied as the local softball field where they play in a social league, the soccer team they may coach, the neighborhood park and maybe even follow them as they direct the county’s local annual school play. We want viewers to know them beyond the worksite and to get to know our “county star” and how they manage not only a project but to get a slice of life in their county.

Our viewers will root for our star and get excited not only about the county project they are managing, but also about their life and see how one county worker can affect the entire county structure. Viewers will see county government working at all levels through the eyes of one county worker who is managing one big county project but touching on so many more lives and county departments.

Characters Wanted - The producers also know that in nearly every county there is one person who everyone agrees should be the star of their own “sit-com.” “Across the County Line” is an opportunity to make a show like “Parks and Rec” come to life, real life. We want to find those people too. Those characters that everyone in the county knows, the person that gets the job done.  Let’s meet these exceptional county workers and see where their stories take us. They might be running a smaller project or may never leave their park office, but greet everyone that comes to them, either way, there is a spot for them in “Across the County Line.”

The other “county stars” we are looking for are the folks who do a job that is very unique to the county. Maybe they run the snow-making machines in a Rocky Mountains ski resort county, are a bison ranger in South Dakota, a mine inspector in West Virginia or a surf forecaster in Orange County, California. Let’s meet these county workers who do something special in their county that exists only in their county. These are the folks we want to meet and make a “county star.”

Of course there are details and logistics to be worked out with each story, and each story will present its own set of challenges, but the producers are committed to telling positive stories of America’s county governments in action. All these stories will be about successful county projects. We will control the content. County government works and “Across the County Line” will show viewers across the U.S.A. how well it works in a dramatic and entertaining fashion.

To include your county project and your county workers for consideration for “Across the County Line” please send a brief explanation of your county project, a short bio of the county manager who would be our “county star” and any other details important to the story. We will contact you as we move forward and discuss the best way to showcase your county story.

Thanks for your help in contributing to keeping American’s informed about the effectiveness of county government. We look forward to hearing from you.

David Martin -
Executive Producer
Across the County Line

NACIO to partner with TCU on Certified Public Communicator Program 

Will provide at least one partial scholarship per year
Posted by Todd McGee Thursday, April 2, 2015 4:38:00 PM Categories: NACIO News

Public-sector communicators study with TCU faculty each summer as part of the Certified Public Communicator program, and this summer the program launches a new partnership.


TCU’s School of Strategic Communication signed an agreement with the National Association of County Information Officers (NACIO) in February at a national meeting in Washington, D.C.  The county communicators group will join the program’s founding partner, the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers. Both groups will serve to advise the program, ensuring that the certificate program continues to meet the needs of public-sector communicators.

“The program is the only continuing education opportunity in the nation that is geared specifically for local government public relations professionals,” said NACIO President Todd McGee, who is also public relations director for the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. “Many local governments pay consultants thousands of dollars to develop a comprehensive communications plan, so the program more than pays for itself.”

McGee provided leadership for the partnership after reaching out to CPC faculty in 2013.

“We’ve already enjoyed working with one NACIO member currently in the program,” said Jacqueline Lambiase, a program co-director at TCU. “Up until now, we’ve had an informal and productive partnership with the group through webinars and other discussion. It’s nice to make it official.”

A partner of the program enters into a reciprocal relationship with the CPC Advisory Board and TCU’s School of Strategic Communication in these ways:

  • Provides at least one partial scholarship to a NACIO member each year;
  • Helps its members learn more about the program through meetings, webinars and email;
  • Allows program faculty to speak at national/regional meetings; and
  • Gains a place for a representative on the Certified Public Communicator Advisory Board.


Key dates

  • April 27 – Completed scholarship applications due
  • April 30 – Scholarship recipient will be notified
  • May 15 – Registration deadline for July 2015-July 2016 class; first payment due
  • July 26-31 – 2015 Session will meet
  • January 2016 (TBD) – Weekend session
  • July 2016 (TBD) – 2016 session will meet


Benefits of the CPC program at TCU:

  • A three-year comprehensive communication plan built for your organization
  • Extensive classroom instruction with public relations, advertising, and marketing professors
  • Latest information on metrics, social influence, and digital media
  • Theoretical foundations plus practical applications
  • A database of public-sector cases
  • Two weeks of instruction during two summers on TCU's campus
  • Networking with public-sector professionals in your cohort
  • Access to professors beyond the classroom


The Certified Public Communicator Program at TCU offers leadership training and rigorous post-baccalaureate education for public information managers and communication professionals working for cities, counties, school districts, and other public and public-private agencies and organizations. The program encompasses the complexities, challenges, and importance of public communication to citizens and stakeholders. This summer’s program is scheduled for the last week of July. For more information, visit

The importance of media relations for elected officials 

Communicating with citizens the value provided by government is key
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 7:55:00 AM Categories: NACIO News

Being an elected official is no easy task, especially for those who serve at the local level, such as a County Commissioner. With the long hours and low pay, County Commissioners are frequently asked to vote on such hot-button issues as zoning, school funding, where to site a new landfill, or economic incentives. All too often, these issues potentially negatively impact neighbors, friends, family members and co-workers, making for uncomfortable trips to the grocery store or to the little league field to watch your child or grandchild play.

For county commissioners, there is nowhere to hide once you have made a difficult decision. But trying to hide from a controversial vote is perhaps the worst tact you could take anyway. Instead, a commissioner should take steps to explain to the citizens exactly why a decision was made and how it will ultimately wind up benefitting the community.

By taking proactive steps to get ahead of the story, commissioners can make sure citizens have all the facts that went into the decision. You may not get the citizens to agree with your decision, but at least they will know why you made it and what your intentions were.

There are simple steps an elected official can take to help ensure their side of a story gets out. The most important step is to develop a professional relationship with the local media. This doesn’t mean you have to become Facebook friends, send them holiday cards or invite them to your child’s birthday party. But it does mean that you should treat the reporter with respect, understand what your role is in the process, and always be responsive to their requests for information and comments.

Remember that the reporter is your conduit to the public at large, and cooperating with the reporter on a story – even a controversial one – will help get your side of the story out. In this day of understaffed newsrooms and 24/7 news cycles, reporters are often working multiple beats while being asked to post on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites.

The competition to be the first to break a story is fierce, thanks to the ever-increasing amount of citizen journalists (i.e. bloggers). You should always be respectful of a reporter’s deadlines, too. Remember that respect is a two-way street.

It is important to remember what your role is in the news-gathering process. As a county commissioner you – and not the reporter – are the expert. Your first goal is to help the reporter understand why a decision was made so they can in turn educate their readers (your constituents).

Don’t assume a reporter knows the issue. The local government beat is one of the first beats given to new reporters, and if a reporter is coming from a different state, he or she may be accustomed to a local government system that is completely different. It is up to you to help the reporter understand how your local government system works so they won’t make any errors when reporting a story.

Reporters will appreciate any help you provide, especially in making sure they publish accurate and verifiable facts. It doesn’t mean they won’t write about the controversial aspects of a story, and it doesn’t mean they won’t interview somebody from a citizens group or other organization that is opposed to your decision, but it should ensure that your side of the story is told.

It will also pay dividends down the road because reporters are always looking for good sources. The next time a citizen calls a reporter with another example of waste by their county government, the reporter might just call you to get the real story before deciding whether or not to write an article.

The next step is to develop a series of talking points about the issue. The key is to focus on the top two or three points and ignore some of the less-important factors. For some issues, there might be dozens of reasons behind the choice, but it is important that the commissioners settle on the top two or three key reasons for the decision. Each commissioner might have different reasons for why they voted, so it is important for a consensus to be reached on what are the key components and then for the board to stay on that message.

There are several guidelines to follow when developing your message. A message should communicate a benefit and describe a shared value. This is important because it enables you to make the connection with your citizens, to let them know how this decision will directly benefit them and the community at large.

Your message should also be short, concise and to the point. You need to be able to articulate this message in one or two sentences, because that’s about how much time you will be given on the local news report. A study recently showed that the average sound bite on the national news is about nine seconds, down from 48 seconds in 1968. Broadcast stations are trying to cover many stories in a 30-minute broadcast, so they are spending less time on each individual story.

It is also important to humanize the message. If the Board of Commissioners adopts a new program that is designed to make the public school system better, think about how you say that. Which sounds better? A) This new program will improve the test scores in our public school system. Or, B) This new program will improve the quality of education for all the children in our community so they will have the chance at a promising future.

Your message should be boiled down to a handful of key points – and refer to them over and over.

If you are in an interview with a news reporter, it is okay to keep repeating yourself. Eventually the reporter will figure out that the points you keep repeating are what you feel are the important points.

It is also important to remember that a message is not about you, and a message is not a goal or a statistic. Statistics and facts can help support your message, but they are not the message in and of themselves.

The final step is to take the story to the citizens. Commissioners should be prepared to answer for the decision immediately. In most cases, reporters will be present at the meeting and will expect to be able to get some reaction from the board immediately after the meeting.

In this instance, it would be important to designate one commissioner – presumably the Board’s appointed or elected chairperson – to serve as the official spokesperson. It is a lot easier to ensure the consistency of a message if only one person is delivering the message.

For controversial stories, it is likely that there will have already been reports in the local press about the issue because much of the mainstream media coverage of local government these days focuses on corruption and controversy. Newspapers in particular are trying to find a niche to help them survive, and government waste and abuse is always a top seller.

Because of this development, another key lesson for elected officials to learn is that you do not have to rely on the traditional news media to tell your story. In this day of 24/7 news cycles, counties can become their own media outlet. Consult with your public information officer to develop a press release, with facts and figures that highlight the key factors for your decision. The release should be posted on the official county website, preferably before the local newspaper hits doorsteps the next morning.

It is also very easy to post a video interview with the designated spokesperson that explains the rationale for the decision. The good news is you do not have to invest in a lot of studio equipment to produce Internet-quality videos. Many cellular phones these days shoot high-definition video. A good digital camera that can take still photos and shoot HD videos can be had for around $500. Editing software, a light kit, a wireless microphone and other odds and ends are not expensive either. A little investment in equipment can produce big returns in terms of public relations and public information.

For the past several years, the National Association of County Information Officers (NACIO) has hosted a workshop at the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference on how to educate the public about a controversial decision. One of the questions we are always asked is for advice on dealing with negative press.

Unfortunately, negative press is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be devastating. By following the tips and guidelines listed above, elected officials can play a key role in helping the citizens better understand why a controversial decision was made.

The value of public information 

Monday, December 17, 2012 11:09:00 AM Categories: NACIO News

Thomas Jefferson wrote often on the value of open, accessible government. He has many quotes that I have used to begin presentations to various groups, some of which I will include here: 

  • "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."
  • "I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion."
  • "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government."
  • "Information to the people ... is the most legitimate engine of government."


Public Information Officers play a crucial role in preserving our democracy, by educating citizens about the services and programs that counties provide and communicating with citizens during times of crisis. These activities can overcome the negative perceptions and mistrust that many citizens have of government by helping citizens see how their county government is actually working for their benefit.

But all too often local elected officials don't understand the value of public information. Most counties do not even have public information officers. For those that do, the PIO is often viewed as a luxury and not a necessity; when budget difficulties arise, as has happened during the recession of the last few years, the PIO is often among the positions that are eliminated.

I think Thomas Jefferson would disagree with the idea that public information is a luxury that can only be supported during times of economic prosperity. In this day and age, a PIO is more important than ever. Newspapers are disappearing; some are folding, others are printing smaller and smaller editions with less staff than ever before.

In an effort to remain viable, the media has turned its focus to government corruption and waste. When controversy is the only story that gets significant coverage, it is easy for citizens to become disenfranchised.

The Internet has made it easier for citizens to get information, but it also makes it easy for citizens to post dis-information. It is easy for that dis-information to be accepted as fact if no one is available to set the record straight.


Hudson wins Second VP election 

Thursday, November 15, 2012 12:14:00 PM Categories: NACIO News

Lori Hudson of Hillsborough County, Fla., emerged victorious in the race for the open NACIO Second Vice President seat with a narrow win over Dave Rose of El Paso County, Colo.

Hudson will serve as NACIO Second Vice President through July 2013 to complete the remainder of the term. Former NACIO President Larry Liddell of Tunica County, Miss., resigned in October after his position was eliminated by the county.

Hudson is the Communications Director and has 17 years of experience in government communications and public affairs.

Todd McGee, the Communications Director for the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, will complete Liddell's term as President through July 2013, then serve his scheduled two-year term as President beginning in July 2013.

Jessica Beyer, Business Analyst and Communications Manager for Blue Earth County, Minn., is NACIO's First Vice President.

Citizens Academies are excellent educational tools 

Friday, September 21, 2012 4:21:00 PM Categories: News

Does your county have a Citizens’ Academy?

Should you?

This is a question being tossed about in a lot of counties across the nation today, and many are deciding they should. People are looking for the county to help them in some manner, and how can they get help if they don’t know what or who to look for? Citizens’ Academies are an excellent means of education for a public that is hungry for information about what counties can do for its people.

It begins with county leadership participating in the process. Every county administrator should be available to lead the discussion in the first class, and every department head taking the instructional lead in classes.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has a board game called “Counties Work” that is instrumental in teaching the county story. The National Association of County Information Officers (NACIO) wholeheartedly endorses this fun educational game and, in fact, helped develop it with NACo.

New NACO priorities to advance NACO’s Executive Director Matt Chase is already working to align organizational resources and federal policy goals, improve research on county innovations and solutions and enhance communications with the membership and partners. Furthermore, he is going to examine NACo’s relationship building and partnership efforts with state associations, affiliates, corporations, foundations and other stakeholders.

Your constituents need to know that NACO assists counties in many ways, including cost-saving, efficiency and innovative solutions (including partnerships with state associations, affiliates and others), evaluating the financial, intellectual and human resources necessary to successfully implement the board’s vision and objectives.

All of this can be included in a Citizens’ Academy program in your county. Check out Helpful Links on the NACIO website and contact one of the counties listed that sponsors a Citizens’ Academy. You will be taking the first step to educating your citizens as to what your county does for them and how they can take advantage of the benefits of county government!


Beyer unanimously chosen as NACIO 2nd VP 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 1:05:00 PM Categories: NACIO News

NACIO President Larry Liddell of Tunica County, Miss., announced Sept. 11 that Jessica Beyer of Blue Earth County, Minn., had won the election for the vacant NACIO Second Vice President position. Beyer will serve as NACIO Second VP for the remainder of2012-13, and then ascend into the First Vice President position in July 2013.

"I am very pleased to announce that Jessica Beyer of Blue Earth County, Minnesota, has been elected by her peers as Second Vice President of the National Association of County Information Officers,” said Liddell. “I am not only excited for her, but I am excited for NACIO as she exemplifies the quality of person we need to lead NACIO."

As Second VP, Beyer will work closely with Liddell and First Vice President Todd McGee of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners as the NACIO Executive Team. NACIO officers serve two-year terms. Liddell’s tenure as President will end in July 2013, when McGee will then become President and Beyer will move into the First Vice President position. At that time, NACIO members will elect a new Second Vice President.

“Jessica’s experience in county government and her previous involvement with NACIO as a Board member and as chair of the Awards of Excellence Competition in 2011 make her extremely qualified to serve as a NACIO officer,” said McGee.

The Second Vice President position became open in July when Diana Buckley of Ellis County, Texas, announced that she had accepted a job in the private sector. NACIO bylaws state that members must work for a county government or state association of counties.

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