Latest News

Gardner chosen to receive NACIO scholarship to TCU program 

Posted by Todd McGee Tuesday, June 2, 2015 11:45:00 AM Categories: NACIO

A veteran county government communications professional has been selected to receive the National Association of County Information Officers (NACIO) Scholarship for the 2015-16 session of Texas Christian University’s Certified Public Communicator Program.

Jodi B. Gardner, the Director of Communications for Forsyth County, Ga., was chosen by NACIO to receive the scholarship. NACIO will pay 50% of the tuition costs for Gardner to attend the program.

“I am honored to have been selected as the recipient of the NACIO scholarship for participation in the Certified Public Communicator Program,” Gardner said. “The leadership training and extensive education provided through the program will no doubt prove valuable to me, my department and Forsyth County. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of this exciting program and appreciative of the support of NACIO.”

The Certified Public Communicator Program at TCU is a post-baccalaureate, graduate-level residential program for two summers (one week each in 2015 and 2016), plus a two-day winter session. The program is taught by strategic communication professors from TCU’s Schieffer School of Journalism.

Professional communicators working for city, county, and public-sector agencies create three-year comprehensive communication plans for their organizations during the program. The CPC program is a partnership of TCU’s Schieffer School of Journalism, Extended Education, and the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.

“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. “We are pleased to be able to offer this scholarship to Jodi, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Certified Public Communicators program.”

Gardner serves as director of Communications for Forsyth County, Ga., and has been with Forsyth County government for 10 years. She and her team of three staff members manage the communications needs for a county that is consistently ranked among the fastest growing in the nation. Their work includes operation of TV Forsyth, the county’s 24-hour government cable channel, media relations, publications, special event planning and more.

“Forsyth County understands the importance of communicating with our citizens and stakeholders,” said Forsyth County Manager Doug Derrer. “We are pleased that Jodi will have the opportunity to take part in this program that will provide tools and education for enhancing and expanding our communications efforts.”

Prior to moving to Georgia and joining Forsyth County, Gardner held the position of development associate at the Ruth Eckerd Hall Performing Arts Center in Clearwater, Fla. She also served as a community development intern with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gardner graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tampa with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Advertising.

NACIO was formed in 1966 to bring together county communications professionals who wanted to share and exchange information with other county public information officers across the United States. NACIO remains dedicated to improving the professional capabilities of its members through an active listserv, training webinars, workshops at national conferences and other means.

As an active affiliate of the National Association of Counties (NACo), NACIO works to promote the value of professional PIOs to county governments and also to promote a better understanding amongst the general public of the roles and responsibilities of county government.

Membership in NACIO is open to any county public information officer or any staff member who serves as the county’s PIO in addition to other duties.

For more information about NACIO, visit For more information about the Certified Public Communicator Program, visit


Second VP Candidate Profile 

Rebecca Carter, Mecklenburg County, N.C.
Posted by Todd McGee Wednesday, May 20, 2015 12:00:00 AM Categories: NACIO

Rebecca CarterI joined NACIO in 2013 after becoming a public information officer with Mecklenburg County government.  I joined NACIO and became active almost immediately, and have attended both the 2014 Annual Conference and the 2015 Legislative Conference.

In New Orleans last summer, I was a panel member for NACIO’s crisis communication workshop, “Keeping Cool When the Heat is On,” and attended the business meeting, roundtable discussion and other sessions.

Currently, I am managing the judging NACIO’s 2015 Annual Awards of Excellence program, as well as planning the awards banquet in Charlotte this summer. 

I love the opportunity to network and share information, and I am determined, committed, and a life-long learner. I am excited about the chance to help lead NACIO and discover new ways to educate our members and support each other.

I am also an at-large board member with the North Carolina City and County Communications organization, and a member of the Charlotte Chapter of Public Relations Society of America.

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

NACIO to host webinar on content for social media 

Posted by Todd McGee Monday, October 27, 2014 10:05:00 AM

Using social media to communicate with citizens would seem like an easy choice for most local governments. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook are free and relatively easy to use and don't require expensive equipment or a lot of dedicated staff to maintain.

But figuring out what to put on your county social media sites isn't always easy. The Internet is filled with examples of local governments that created social media sites but stopped updating them because they did not have a content development strategy in place to begin with.

The next in our series of training webinars will address the topic of generating content for local government social media sites. The webinar will be held Thursday, Nov. 20, at 2 p.m. ET.

Kristy Dalton is the founder and CEO of Government Social Media LLC. She has extensive experience in both government and private industry and is frequently asked to deliver keynotes, judge award programs and advise government agencies on digital strategy. Kristy is also the creator and host of GovGirl, a unique online video show focused on government innovation.

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Buncombe County wins Best of Show  

Posted by Todd McGee Thursday, July 17, 2014 9:27:00 PM Categories: Awards of Excellence NACIO

"Forever Free," a 15-minute video made by Buncombe County, N.C., Government, earned the Best of Show honors in the National Association of County Information Officers 2014 Awards of Excellence Contest.


The video was made by the Buncombe County Public Information Office in conjunction with the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office as part of an exhibit to commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

In every county in North Carolina, the Register of Deeds played a role in cataloging the transactions of slavery in handwritten books. Contained in these handwritten files from the early 1800s are deeds documenting the trading of slaves as property.

One of the stories highlighted in the Slave Deed exhibit is of a slave named Sarah Gudger. Ms. Gudger was born into slavery in Old Fort, N.C., but spent the majority of her life in Reems Creek. Her story is one of the only firsthand accounts of slavery in Buncombe County.

Buncombe County displays this documentation for the purpose of historical research, family genealogy, education, and to acknowledge that slavery was a part of our County's history.

For more information please go to

Congratulations to Buncombe County Public Information Officer Kathy Hughes and her staff for the award. Cataldo Perrone served as editor and director for the video.

NACIO Awards of Excellence winners announced 

Posted by Todd McGee Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:20:00 AM Categories: Awards of Excellence

Once again, it is evident that Public Information Officers around the nation are creating some wonderful work. The 2014 NACIO Awards of Excellence Competition wrapped up with the official awards webinar announcement on Wednesday, June 18.

  • Click here for a PPT with the list of winners.

This year's competition featured more than 325 entries (an increase of more than 20 percent from last year). One of the perks of being president is that I get to see a lot of the entries as they come in, and I can attest to the high quality of creative work that is being done out there.

This year's contest features a new twist - we are going to ask our members to vote on the Best of Show winner from among the nine Best of Class winners listed below. Please peruse the award winners and review their applications. To vote, fill out the survey at the bottom of the page. Each NACIO member will be allowed one vote. Voting will close July 3.

Best of Class Winners

Category A (Annual Reports): Montgomery County (Va.) Annual Report | Application – Ruth Richey

Category B (Brochures): Be Prepared Hurricane brochure – Tristan Babin, St. Charles, La.

Category C (Publictions): Greater Fort Lauderdale (Broward) Vacation Planner | Application – Nicki E. Grossman, Broward County, Fla.

Category D (Writing): The Poor Roads of the Oil Boom – Maria Sprow, Texas Association of Counties

Category E (Graphic Design): Lake Sidney Lanier Graphics & Graphics 2 | Application – Heather Sawyer, Gwinnett County, Ga.

Category F (Photography): Animal Shelter Photos Dog 1 | Dog 2Application – Sarah Williamson-Baker, Wake County, N.C.

Category G (Videos): Forever Free | Application – Kathy Hughes, Buncombe County, N.C.

Category H (Special Projects): Bernco Bernie website & Twitter | Application – Tia Bland, Bernalillo County, N.M.

Category I (Electronic Communications):  | Application – Nicki E. Grossman, Broward County, Fla.

Job well done 

More than 300 entries received for contest
Thursday, April 24, 2014 3:46:00 PM Categories: Awards of Excellence NACIO NACo

The April 18 deadline for the NACIO Awards of Excellence contest has passed, but not without a flurry of last-minute activity.

We are still going through all the entries received, but it looks like we will have more than 330 entries in this year's contest, an increase of more than 25 percent from last year. We have received entries from more than 20 states and from many new members.

Contests like our Awards of Excellence program are not just about being recognized for great work. These contests help validate the profession of a Public Information Officer, and they are also a valuable educational experience for all of our members. We will post links to as many winning entries as we can once the winners are announed in early June, so be sure to come back and see what your colleages from around the nation are doing.

I hope you will be able to make it to New Orleans for the National Association of Counties' Annual Conference, which is scheduled for July 11-14. NACIO will hosts its annual business session and media relations roundtables on Saturday, July 12. We are still working on the details for our annual awards presentation ceremony and will post those once we have finalized our plan.



Thanks and good luck! 

Monday, March 10, 2014 5:01:00 PM Categories: NACIO NACo

NACIO could not have survived these past few years without the support we have been provided by the National Association of Counties. For many years, NACo Public Affairs Director Tom Goodman - a former NACIO President from his days in Howard County, Md. - served as the staff liaison to NACIO.

A few years ago, when Tom's duties changed at NACo, Media Relations Manager Jim Philipps became the NACo liaison. It was a seamless transition, thanks to Jim's professionalism and dedication.

NACo Media Relations Manager Jim Phillips (center) poses with, from left, NACIO President Todd McGee, NACIO First Vice President Jessie Beyer, NACIO Regional Director Dave Rose and NACIO At-Large Director Perrin Anderson.

Jim's passion for NACo and NACIO is evident at every meeting. He has advocated for NACIO workshop proposals when NACo staff was deciding which workshops would be accepted for the Legislative and Annual conferences. There is no doubt that his behind-the-scenes influence has helped NACIO host a workshop at every NACo Annual and Legislative Conference for at least the past 10 years - and sometimes two.

He has helped take NACo's public relations efforts to the next level, with an active YouTube channel and increased awareness of county issues with the national media.

He has always been an avid supporter of NACIO, and above all, he has always been a trusted friend and advisor.

Another Jim, country music crooner Jim Stafford, once sang that "All good things must come to an end." And so it is with Jim's tenure at NACo.

It is with a mixture of sadness and excitement that I wish Jim the best at his new duties. Jim has taken a new position with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). It is a tremendous step forward in his career, and I wish him nothing but the best. His last day at NACo will be Friday, March 14. If you would like to send Jim a congralatory email, please do so at

Jim has been an excellent confidante in recent years. He and I both coach youth soccer, and we have exchanged many emails and had many phone calls with soccer tips and techniques.

The great news about Jim's new position is that the IAFC, like NACIO, is an affiliate of NACo. This means that we will still get to see Jim at some NACo events.

Good luck, Jim, and goodbye on behalf of NACIO! But in this case, goodbye does not mean so long - it only means, see you later.

Awards of Excellence Contest Now Open 

Early entry deadline is March 31
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 9:46:00 AM Categories: Awards of Excellence NACIO

To put it into Olympic terms, now is the time to show us your Triple-Flip, Double-Back, Forward somersault on the half-pipe! Yes, it is time for the National Association of County Information Officers 2014 Awards of Excellence competition. In other words, like seemingly all the new Olympic sports these days, this is your opportunity to show off.

This contest recognizes outstanding public relations and public information work being done in counties across the nation. Winners are announced in June.

The 2014 Awards are a comprehensive look at the initiatives and efforts put forth from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2013, and will recognize excellence in nine categories: Annual Reports, Brochures/Multiple-Page Booklets, Publications, Writing, Graphic Design, Photography, Audiovisual Productions, Special Projects, and Electronic Communications. Each category will include several subcategories. Please note that the projects must have been produced during the calendar year, but it does not have to be a new project. It can be an ongoing program or initiative.

The Awards of Excellence are open to county staff whose county is eligible to join the National Association of Counties (NACo), or any staff of an eligible state association of counties.

Judy T. Brownlee of DeKalb County, Ga., will serve as the chair for the 2014 awards competition.

We have added several new subcategories this year to reflect new communications practices. Category G-3 is for podcasts or other audio programming. There are three new subcategories in the Electronic Communications category - I-2 (Best Facebook Page), I-3 (Best Twitter Feed) and I-4 (Email Newsletter to citizens).

So dust off those skis, find that snowboard and send in your entries. It is time for you to show off and be recognized for your efforts.

If you need to check your membership status, please contact Rita McGee, NACIO Membership Coordinator.

Upcoming events at NACIO 

Webinar on Crisis Communications to be offered in the fall
Friday, August 30, 2013 3:53:00 PM Categories: Awards of Excellence NACIO NACo

The National Association of County Information Officers will be hosting another training webinar for members this fall. The date will be announced soon.

The session will focus on crisis communications and will utilize NACIO members who have recently gone through situations that required crisis communications. Please be on the lookout for more information about this exciting training opportunity.

We will also have a representative from the Certified Public Communicator Program being offered by Texas Christian University. The program, developed by strategic communication professors Jacqueline Lambiase and Laura Bright, will offer 95 hours of leadership training and coursework designed for the complexities and challenges of communicating with citizens and stakeholders. It is designed for public information managers and professionals working for cities, counties, school districts, and other public and public-private agencies.

Membership renewals for 2014 will be going out in November, so please be on the lookout for them as well. NACIO will also be solicting for ideas for workshop proposals for the 2014 NACo Legislative Conference, which will be held March 1-5 at the Washington Hilton.


Welcome to new NACIO Board members

Several new at-large members were appointed to the NACIO Board of Directors for 2013-2015 by NACIO President Todd McGee in July. The new members are:

  • Perrin Anderson, Communications/Marketing Coordinator for Sevier County, Tenn.
  • Judy T. Brownlee, Chief of Staff, Office of Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, DeKalb County, Ga.
  • Kiara Jones, Director of Public Information & Media Relations, Pitt County, N.C.


NACIO Seeking Volunteer to serve as 2014 Awards of Excellence Chair

NACIO is seeking a member who is willing to serve as the chair for the 2014 NACIO Awards of Excellence competition. The chair is responsible for lining up the judges, coordinating the delivery of the applications to the judges, helping promote the contest to members, responding to questions from members, coordinating with the NACIO Membership Coordinator the payment and receipt of entries and presenting the awards at the NACIO Awards Reception, which is held in conjunction with the NACo Annual Conference in July. It is a wonderful way to get more involved with NACIO and a very rewarding opportunity to learn more about many of the exciting communications activities from counties around the nation.

Next year's NACO event is July 11-14, 2014, in New Orleans. The exact date for the Awards Reception has yet to be determined.


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