2018 – County of San Diego – Team Award

Group photo of award winners outside in sunny San Diego

Santa Rosa Calif.- The County of San Diego Communications Office was awarded on April 11 with the Frank Potter Cowan Crisis Communications Team award at the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO) annual conference.

 “The County’s Communications Department exemplifies the strategic and inclusive outreach needed to excel at the intersection of communications and crisis management,” said CAPIO President Christine Brainerd, APR and communications manager for the City of Folsom. “Their dedication, tenacity, and passion towards their community elicits inspiration and advancement in the profession.”

The team demonstrated its regional leadership last year through creating and managing crisis communications strategies for both the unprecedented public health Hepatitis A outbreak and for the fast-spreading Lilac Fire.

“We are honored to be recognized as a team for our proactive and strategic crisis communications. We’re dedicated to serving the public by sharing timely and accurate information, especially during an emergency,” said Director Michael Workman. “Our strategy is constantly evolving to take advantage of new technology and best practices. We know we have to be ready for any scenario, and we work closely with our employees, partners, fellow PIOs and media to effectively serve our residents.”

The County strategically responded to the Hepatitis A breakout that led to a state of Public Health Emergency. During that time, the team was able to respond to more than 220 national and local media requests, paying close attention to complex inquires with many legal and medical considerations.

They also created content that was viewed more than 35,000 times on the county website and had more than 185,500 social media impressions. In addition, the team worked proactively on outreach campaigns to at-risk groups, improved website functionality to ensure the end-user experience and communicated with internal audiences.

Simultaneously, the department worked diligently to develop their wildfire communications strategy, demonstrating their multifaceted public outreach. Knowing fall in Southern California typically brings dangerously dry conditions and extreme Santa Ana winds, the team successfully communicated fire prevention messages to multiple audiences through many mediums.

When the Lilac Fire broke out in December, their social media presence on Twitter produced an outstanding 2.1 million impressions and 3,349 retweets with an increased following of 5,466 community members. The county also kept their network of more than 300 regional PIOs regularly updated and encouraged information sharing to ensure all residents and stakeholders were informed before, during and after the devastating fire.

The County of San Diego Communications Office is the centralized department responsible for the County’s internal and external communications. The team manages countynewscenter.com, which is the County’s news and information website, social media, media relations, crisis communications, public outreach and employee website as well as many other projects. The office is also responsible for sharing information with a regional group of more than 300 government communicators.

The Frank Potter Cowan Crisis Communications award recognizes a team and/or individual who demonstrated extraordinary success in leading a team during a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or a reputational crisis.

CAPIO is the premier professional association for California’s government communicators, serving nearly 600 professionals across the state.


Photo from left to right: Tom Christensen, communications specialist; Mike Russo, multimedia manager; Andy Tolley, video production specialist; Autumn Endara, multimedia designer; Suzanne Bartole, video production specialist; Gig Conaughton, communications specialist; Kent Doetkott, chief audio/video technical engineer; James Kecskes, video production specialist; Garlyn Mohler, multimedia designer; Gretchen Sizer-Kecskes, graphic designer; Michelle Mowad, communications specialist; Mike Workman, communications director; Lesley Pinka, graphic designer; Tracy Defore, communications specialist; Jose Alvarez, communications specialist; Melissa Phy, multimedia designer; Jose Villanueva, video production specialist; Yvette Urrea Moe, communications specialist; Tegan Glasheen, communications manager. Not pictured: Tammy Glenn, assistant communications director.