The PIO and the Right to Know: 2nd Annual Communications Summit

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 Wayne State University & DTE Energy Present

The PIO and the Right to Know – 2nd Annual Communications Summit
Mission-critical guidance for the Public Information Officer

There is an increasing expectation for organizations to respond quickly and in real time during a crisis – and sometimes with minimal resources.


Morning Agenda

8:00 – 8:45 a.m.                              Check-In, Continental Breakfast


8:45 – 9:00 a.m.                              Opening Remarks


9:00 – 10:00 a.m.             Opening Keynote: When “It” Hits the Fan

Gerard Braud, International Crisis Communications Coach, Trainer, Author and Speaker

10:10 – 11:00 a.m.          Breakout Sessions


Session I: Breaking Bad: Partnering with Media to Tell YOUR Story

Bad news is inevitable, bad press isn’t. Join our team of PIOs and former reporters for tips and tricks on how to control the narrative and soften the blow.

Panel discussion with Randi Berris, Manager of Corporate Communications – Electric Operations at DTE Energy; Chrystal Wilson, Assistant Superintendent of Communications, Detroit Public Schools Community District; and John Roach, Director of Media Relations, City of Detroit

Moderated by Gerard Braud, International Crisis Communications Coach, Trainer, Author and Speaker


Session II: Social Media Community Management in a Crisis

Social media can be one of your most effective tools for reaching a community in a crisis. Learn when you should and shouldn’t respond, how to manage internal expectations and counsel your leaders’ social media presence, and establish a “surge capacity.” Most importantly, you will learn how to talk like a human, not just a PIO, strengthening your community relationship.

Christopher Barger, Senior Director of Communications at SME


11:10 – 12:00 p.m.          Case Study Critique

Take a look inside a successful crisis communications case study – what went right and what could have gone wrong – to help you understand the ingredients to surviving a catastrophe with reputation intact.

Matt Friedman, Co-Founder of Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications


12:00 – 1:00 p.m.             Lunch & Networking


Afternoon Agenda

1:00 – 1:45 p.m.               Breakout Sessions


Session I: Crisis is over…Now What?

Discuss lessons learned from the crisis, how to be better prepared for the next time, and rebuilding the broken or fragile brand/reputation going forward. Caponigro, with 40 years in the PR and marketing business and the author of one of the best-selling books written on the subject of crisis communications, will offer his perspectives on the do’s and don’ts of crisis management – and how to ensure you are prepared for the future.

Jeff Caponigro, APR, Fellow PRSA, President and CEO, Caponigro Public Relations Inc. and Executive Vice President-Corporate Communications and Marketing, Trion Solutions, Inc., and author: THE CRISIS COUNSELOR: A step-by-step guide to managing a business crisis.


Session II: The Crisis Communications Plan: Preparing for the Unknown

Do you have a communications plan for the first hours following a crisis? This workshop will provide detailed advice and hands-on input from experts. This session covers all stages of development from having comprehensive plans to no plans at all. Bring your questions, and drafts or entire plans if you have one.

Matt Seeger, Dean of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University and Lee Wilkins, Chair of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University.


2:00 – 2:50 p.m.               “Ask Us Anything” Panel

Expert panelists – comprising communications experts and reporters – will answer audience questions about how to best meet the needs of all stakeholders during a crisis.

Panel discussion with Sara Wurfel, former Press Secretary and Spokeswoman for Governor Rick Snyder, current Vice President for Public Affairs at Truscott Rossman; Dan Heaton, Public Relations Manager at Macomb County Office of Public Works; Hank Winchester, Consumer Investigative Reporter at WDIV Local 4 News; and Lauren Gibbons, Reporter for MLive’s Public Interest team

Moderated by Gerard Braud, International Crisis Communications Coach, Trainer, Author and Speaker

3:00 – 3:50 p.m.               Afternoon Keynote

Police Chief James Craig, Detroit Police Department


3:50 – 4:00 p.m.               Closing Remarks


4:15 – 5:30 p.m.               Networking Reception


Network with fellow attendees. Refreshments will be served.




Student Center Building

For more information about this event, please contact Carly Weedgetz at 313-269-6892 or

Submissions for this form have closed on March 6, 2019 at 12:00 am.