LI's Public Relations School: "Eye-Opening"

March 15, 2011 | By Harald Brevik

With our increasing hunger for information, real-time photos and video, and "live-tweeting" from the scene, a composed response to any scenario is more important than ever for political communicators. That's just what students learned at last week's interactive, three-night Public Relations School at the Leadership Institute.

"Crisis communication is a sixth sense -- an art, not a science," explained Mark Pfeifle, an LI faculty member and Systems Media Group Vice President. Drawing on his past experience as Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush and Press Secretary and Communications Director for Interior Secretary Gale Norton, he taught attendees how to stay on message during a crisis.

For Washington Scholars Legislative Fellow Mark Cummings, "learning the different aspects of crisis management was the most beneficial" information at the school. Mark, who works for Senator Ensign (NV), called the training "a worthwhile, eye-opening experience."

Blain Rethmeier (photo at left), Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the American Insurance Association, instructed LI students to "always answer the question you wished they would have asked" during his lecture on message development. Remember, he advised, that "every question is an opportunity to get your message out."

The faculty was well-received; their lessons, even more so. But the students weren't the only ones enjoying their time. As Blain Rethmeier said at the end of his lecture, "I came to you to do this, because people used to come do this for me."