PAO Academy - Day 2 from Atlanta, Ga.

Day 2 was just as good as the first.

The Morning
It began with an open forum for attendees to ask questions and express frustrations. Most complained about how their commanders do not support the PAO position and take it for grated. At that moment, I realized how lucky I am to have a commander that supports what I do. Not only does 1st Lt. Welch encourage me, he offers guidance and ideas and trusts me to go off on my own to get the job done. (Thanks!!)

FYI- This was the half-hour in which the National Commander was supposed to speak. I think the idea to open the time to discussion was brilliant. No one even noticed that the schedule changed.

The Speakers
We were presented with some incredible stories about performing the Public Affairs / Information officer duties during disasters and major accidents. The events discussed included the plane crash and death of Scott Crossfield and the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The stories were incredible. They also warned us of the gore that we can expect if we are ever the first to respond to a plane crash. I will leave it at that.

In addition, a media trainer spoke to us about how to interact with journalists. This guy was great. He gave us specific pointers about appearance and how non-verbal communication affects impressions, dos and dont's in terms of what we say and how to field journalists' questions. The advice was wonderful.

Media Bashing
The somewhat frequent journalist bashing throughout the day did bother me a bit. No one said anything they shouldn't. But reporters were not painted in a nice light. Part of this has to do with peoples' lack of understanding of how the business works. Others just think that "the media" is evil.

As a former journalist, this negative impression bothers me. Sure, there are some snakes in journalism but most people in the business are just trying to pay the bills, provide for their families and do a good job. So, I hope the Bowie Squadron keeps that in mind if ever dealing with a journalist. If we maintain a kind, polite and helpful demeanor, 99% of journalists will return the favor. Let us remember that without the media, we cannot get our word out.

Overall Impressions
In summary, I am very pleased with the information offered at the first PAO Academy. I hope to share what I have learned in the coming weeks.