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September 12, 2023 55 mins

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Season 5 - TCD Podcast - Episode 111

In the current media landscape, managing media relations and crisis management for law enforcement agencies can be challenging. However, experts like Julie Parker, former ABC News reporter and current CEO of Julie Parker Communications, are helping to decode this complex terrain. 

In this podcast episode, Parker shared her journey from reporting the news to shaping narratives for police departments. Her experience has illuminated the power of proactive storytelling in shaping public perception of law enforcement and highlighted the importance of controlling narratives.

We delved into how law enforcement agencies can harness the power of social media to share their information, interact with the public, and shape public perception. Parker emphasized the importance of law enforcement agencies controlling their own narrative and the role of the media in disseminating their stories. 

Moreover, she provided insights on how agencies, even those with tighter budgets, can strategically use social media, considering the sensitivity of circumstances. She emphasized the importance of having a communications officer closely aligned with the head of the organization, suggesting that a shared resources model can work in smaller departments.

The podcast interview also underscored the significance of preparedness for crisis communications. Authenticity and genuineness in communication were also highlighted as key elements in building public trust. The power of community meetings was discussed as a valuable platform for practicing messaging and preparing for media interactions. 

The podcast served as a reminder that effective communication strategies are crucial for law enforcement agencies in an era of heightened media exposure. As the media landscape continues to evolve, so too must the strategies used by law enforcement agencies to engage with the public and manage crises. 

Mastering media relations and crisis management in law enforcement requires a deep understanding of the media landscape, a proactive approach to storytelling, strategic use of social media, and preparedness for crisis situations. With these tools, law enforcement agencies can effectively navigate the media landscape, manage crises, and foster a positive relationship with the public.

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If you'd like to arrange for facilitated training, or consulting, or talk about steps you might take to improve your leadership and help in your quest for promotion, contact Steve at

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Intro/Outro (00:03):
Welcome to T he Cop Doc Podcast.
This podcast explores policeleadership issues and innovative
The cop doc shares thoughts andideas as he talks with leaders
in policing communities,academia and other government
And now please join Dr SteveMorreale and industry thought

leaders as they share theirinsights and experience.

Steve Morreale (00:34):
Well, hello everybody, it's Steve Morreale,
welcome back to another episodeof The Cop Doc Podcast, and
today I am in Boston and I amdown to Wilmington, north
Carolina, getting ready to talkto Julie Parker.
She is the owner and CEO ofJulie Parker Communication.
She is a former ABC WashingtonNews reporter.
Among other things, julie hasbeen a media relations

specialist for a couple ofagencies and now does training
relating to social media andcrisis communication and PIO
media relations and such.
So good afternoon to you.

Julie Parker (01:09):
Hello doc, how are you?
Thanks for having me.
I'm fine.

Steve Morreale (01:12):
For us it's Steve, that's it's always fine.
Listen, I am so glad to finallyget with you.
This is a unique topic that wedon't always talk about, but I
think it's extremely important,as I talked to you about before
we jumped on.
I am a PIO in history with theDrug Enforcement Administration
and I know how important talkingto the media is not ignoring
the media, not saying no commentand I think what you have done

from your experience as a newsreporter and now fast-forwarding
, trying to help as a consultantor as a practitioner in police
media relations I want to talkabout that because I think so
many listeners need to hear thisstory and need to think about
it a little bit differently.
So tell us about yourtrajectory coming into the work
you're doing now.

Julie Parker (01:56):
Steve, I started in reporting in the Washington
DC TV market and that was thefoundation for learning.
I didn't know this at the time,but learning crisis
communications because by beinga reporter in Washington DC and
being a general assignmentreporter where you could be
covering fire one minute astrike, the next it's hot in DC,
it's cold in DC, there'straffic in DC.

Covering all of those thingsand attending umpteen news
conferences and seeing umpteenpress releases and determining
what worked and what didn'tbuilt the foundation for me as I
transitioned from covering newsin DC to covering news about
two major police departmentsfrom within the police

department, and that's how Ilooked at my career as a media
relations director for thePrince George's County police in
Maryland and for the FairfaxCounty police in Northern
There was no guidebook given tome.
I started in 2011, which wasrelatively new at the time for
former journalists to become, atleast in the DC market, media
relations directors, and Iworked immediately and very

diligently to try to turn aroundthe reputation of our
department, both with the mediaand with the public.
Social media was a key toolthat I used to accomplish that.

Steve Morreale (03:12):
And, of course, in 2011, versus today, social
media is, in many cases, one ofthe only ways young people get
their news.

Julie Parker (03:20):
I mean, I have two teenage daughters, one's 15 and
the other is 20 years old, andwhen that recent congressional
hearing about the UFOs came upand I mentioned it, and what I
mentioned to them in passing wasit's amazing that really nobody
We're talking about aliens andnobody cares and the kids were
like, yeah, I heard somethingabout that and I said, would you

ever actually watch a newsstory about that?
And they looked at me sidewaysas if I had to, as if I were
some of the aliens.
That's correct and and my girlsare both straight A students of
college junior, as is at UNCChapel Hill.
These are smart kids and thisis just not going to be their
No, it isn't.

Steve Morreale (04:01):
Think about what has changed.
Here you are and as I've grownup, I played in the radio world
for a little while and Iremember my TV's having an
antenna and there wasn't cable.
And now we've come through thattransition and cable was so
important to us and now manypeople cut the cord with cable
and so they're relying on our SSfeeds and those kinds of things

And so I think agencies andthis is an important discussion
point for for chiefs and thosepeople who are leaders to say we
can't stand on the sideline andhope that the reporter will
come and throw the microphone onour face.
We need to play a role and beproactive in getting our story
So some of the things I see youtalk about is marketing.

I think police do a piss pooreffort in marketing the good
things they do, and you alsohave to worry about being in
front of a crisis or in front ofa critical incident and provide
as much information as you can,and that's where you come in
and help.
In some ways, you have beenworking with the IECP my
goodness, I took a list of thepeople that you have worked with

the FBI, the National PolicingInstitute, park Police, capitol
Police, iacp, perf, omaha, pgand Montgomery County, the Naval
Postgraduate School and all ofthe trainings that you do.
As you travel, your story, yourmessage is becoming clearer and
people are listening.
But talk about what I just saidin terms of using social media

to be proactive.

Julie Parker (05:24):
A couple of things .
You touched on a lot of pointsand one point I wrote down that
I have to make sure we discusswhen I left news and I went into
a police department and I gotto know everyone from the chiefs
down to the recruits, and Iwandered around the headquarters
and the various stations and Idid ride-alongs and I worked
very hard to pull out thestories, because that is how you

get people to know you, evenwhen A they don't think they
want to know you, they don'tthink they need to know you or
they have an opinion of you andwe need to change it.
And what I kept finding overand over again and it changed my
understanding of lawenforcement is how many officers
and even in some cases they'resupervisors, but generally among

the officers would say to meit's no big deal.
I would slam my head into theconcrete walls of headquarters
too often, which is I was sofrustrated that they were doing
things like not just helping thelittle old lady across the road
but taking money out of theirpockets to go help someone, with
no intention ever of winding upwith an award or being on

social media or any of that.
But the challenge in lawenforcement public information
in 2023 is that we have to getthose stories out there.
We have to remind the publicthat they are not the enemy,
that law enforcement is not theenemy and, like any single

profession you name theprofession there are always
people who are great and thereare people who suck, and it
doesn't matter what professionyou're in Now in law enforcement
, you obviously hold atremendous amount of authority
and power, and I understand andI'm not saying that to diminish
from people who are rightfullyso upset about bad policing, but

every single profession haspeople who are not good at their
We can't allow a narrative togo unanswered, to go unchecked,
and so it's very important thatthe communicators and the
leaders and organizations say itis a big deal, what you just
did does matter, and we do needto share that.

That's one point I wanted tomake about.

Steve Morreale (07:47):
All the good things that go on that are never
reported about.

Julie Parker (07:51):
That's right, and hopefully the law enforcement
PIOs of the world can pull thosestories out and then hopefully
they take off on social mediaand hopefully the media also
covers it, because they do stillhave a powerful voice.
It's not the voice that theyhad of yesteryear, but they have

a powerful voice still.
Another point I wanted to makeabout what you said is it isn't
just about the media.
What we still see there are18,000 law enforcement agencies
in this country and you will seenearly that many ways that
people handle a crisis and thereis still this tremendous

reliance upon the media, wherelaw enforcement ironically gives
up its control and turns itover to the media.
Here's a news release.
Go do with it.
What you will, other thanstreaming live their own news
conference only telling themedia, for example, the names of

the victims of a shooting.
Why would you not share all ofyour information with your
public on social media?
That is a tremendous gap thatexists to this day, that we see
not only in the calls that weget for help in a crisis, but,
as we do trainings all over theplace big agencies, law agencies

, federal, state, county, localwe see this everywhere.
Is that there's this awakeningthat?
Yep, we need to work with themedia.
That happened.
That happened very well maybe20 years ago.
Law enforcement communicatesmuch better with the media today
, but now it's like we needanother.

We need another wave ofrecognition that social media is
actually as, if not more,important For law enforcement to
Then the media to get themessage out.

Steve Morreale (09:54):
Well, that's interesting that you're talking
about that, because it's it'ssomewhat Ironic.
I mean, I've seen policeagencies say you know, you've
just pissed me off.
You come into my office, youask me questions and then you
write this negative stuff.
I'll tell you what.
I am not talking to you anymore.
Oh, my goodness, what a bigmistake.
You know whether it's anewspaper or it's or it's an.
You know Somebody who isconstantly badgering when really
what you're trying to do is toget at the truth.

Right, tell me the facts, giveme what you can.
I may slant it one way or theother, but you've got to give me
the facts.
And if you don't give me thefacts, guess what?
I'm gonna go and talk to Johnnyand Susie and she's gonna say
whatever she thinks, and that'swhat's gonna slant whatever,
whatever just happens.
So so I think you're right.
I've seen agencies do that andit's troubling when they do.

But I also see there's a couplethings that you know we could
talk about.
Well, we're gonna talk a lotabout this, but I think what
police begin should begin tounderstand is you can control
the narrative and very often,what happens when you start
doing that, that instead of themedia coming to you.
They're coming to you after youhave released information to

get more information.
So you have sort of controlled,controlled the message and Then
they're coming to you becausethey listen, they're all on
deadline, they're all competing.
You know they want a piece ofthe story and so, if you are an
example, I guess what I washearing you say is hey, today,
everybody you know we need toreport that something just

We're still on the scene.
This is what's occurred.
We were shutting these streetsdown.
This is what's going on.
We're investigating this andthis.
So far, two people have beeninjured there at the hospital.
I cannot release the names atthis point.
We will do it as soon aspossible.
However, we're looking for this, this, this and this and would
ask for your help to try toprotect others.
Or we have one person and underarrest, and this is just a.

It seems to be a one-off, butwe will continue to keep you
That is simple to do.
We could actually create atemplate for that, but we don't
do that routinely.

Julie Parker (11:53):
And I'm not sure why that is.
I will say that I'm gonna pushback on you a little bit about
controlling the narrative andSay law enforcement agencies can
help guide it much better helpshape.
Help shape it, yes, but sooften law enforcement agencies
are in a reactive position thatthe thing has gone boom,

something has happened.
They're responding.
So someone else has alreadylikely Recorded this, shared
this, tweeted about this, xabout it, whatever the heck you
call it now.
Yeah, the new recorders areaware of it.
So in many cases, even for thebest agencies, you can't always
be first, and that would make me, that would make me stress out

when and someone else found outfirst about, say, one of our
I always wanted to beat themedia simply because of your
We want to Own our news.
What we always say to thesegroups that we train across the
country is it's our news.
We should be breaking our news,not that number one TV station,

not the radio station, not thenewspaper, not the blogger.
We should.
It's ours to investigate andwe'll work with the media by all
But we're also going to workwith social media and we're
gonna share information there,we're gonna interact there.
We're potentially going to getInformation to help us solve the
cases from social media ifwe're using it properly.

Steve Morreale (13:28):
You know, I don't mind being pushed back On,
don't you worry about that?
And listen.
This is a part of learning andsometimes you know, when you
speak a thousand words, theremay be a word that is is not
And the idea of creating orcontrolling, as opposed to
guiding, the narrative.
I'm satisfied with that, I haveno trouble.

But my point would be thatpolice need to start doing that,
and if you're going to startWalking down the road to provide
information, both current andgood stories, when you start
down that road, you can't juststart and stop, and that's what
I see a lot of agencies do.
Nobody keeps it up to date.

I'll give an example.
So when I start a course lawenforcement, a society or even
Introduction to criminal justiceone of the first things I ask
students to do is go and theylike this go to your local
Polices website and take a lookat it and look at what
information is there.
Is it satisfying to you?
Does it mean everything youwant to know?
I also, if they're doing aFacebook or it used to be

Twitter, if you're who are at X,if they're doing some or
Instagram, is it current or isit three months old?
Because you know the, the.
The expectation of youngerpeople is that the information
is there at my fingertips.
Don't make me search for it orI'm not coming back.
And so what I asked them to dois look at their local, go to a
big, a big town in the state.

Go to a big town out of state.
Go to a big city or or policedepartment out of the country,
english speaking, and comparethose things.
And I know that when you gointo the UK, they're way more
open than we are.
I'm seeing your head shake.
I have that opportunity, so Iknow you're writing too, just
like me.
So what do you think in there?
Julie Parker and, by the way,we're talking to Julie Parker,

who's in Wilmington and she isthe president, ceo of Julie
Parker communications andfocuses on crisis and social
media and Media relations for,especially for policing
organizations- Steve, this iswhy we have challenges with

Julie Parker (15:30):
Because of what you just said.
We are at a At a crisis when itcomes to law enforcement
One of the reasons.
There are many more and some ofthem quite obvious, but one of
the reasons is that if you puttoday's 21 year olds and Give
them the path to apply for a joband you put 20 clicks between

them and Finally applying, guesswhat they're likely not going
to do.
I give up the patient.
They have the patience of fleas.
They're used to everything likethis instant gratification.
Yeah, keep doing the what weused to do in the 90s.
That is not working.
So an easy thing lawenforcement agencies could do

right now, if you've gotleadership or anybody listening
to your podcast is do ananalysis of what it takes to
apply to become a police officerwith your agency and If you
have found it's taking you 10,12, 15, 20 clicks To finally
submit that application, figureout a better way.

Steve Morreale (16:43):
That's great and certainly recruiting is a
So you're traveling all overthe country and You're talking
to police leadership and you'rebringing the message and, from
what I can see following you onLinkedIn, there is a receptivity
and that's very good for youand but very, very important.
So, as you make the rounds andAssuming that you have become

knighted as a Policeprofessional because they're
doing yes will night you.
Why not, you know?
Maybe we'll give you yes, maybewe'll give you a.
Maybe you can be a duchess orsomething.
We'll do something.
We'll do something, maybesomething royal for Julie Parker
But what do you see?
I mean, if you want to takeyour pen for a moment and say

you know what are the top threechallenges Police are facing at
this point in time?
You already covered onerecruiting and retention.
What jumps to your mind besidesthat?

Julie Parker (17:42):
it's the preexisting judgments about law
enforcement and because that'swhat we're up against one we
have to know that in advance.
What does the public feel aboutus?
And that's gonna change fromTexas to Vermont, that's gonna
be different to differentjurisdictions, but what will
matter whether you're in Texasor Vermont when this thing

whatever the thing is thathappens.
If it becomes a nationalincident or an international
incident, suddenly you may havelots of support at home, but
when this thing grows andexpands to the national or
international level, then it'smore important than ever that
you're more communicative.
It's almost impossible to overcommunicate in a crisis.

I can't give you an example ofan organization that over
communicates in a crisis.
What we see in this profession,as you're well aware, is a lack
of communication, insufficientcommunication.
We did a recent training,couldn't tell you what state we
were in and we were talkingabout.

Steve Morreale (18:52):
Wait a minute, because you forget where you

Julie Parker (18:55):
Because I forget where I am.
I'm doing that thing, Steve.
I'm in an airport and I legitlook around for when am I?
As to where am I, it's, Iunderstand, I've been there and
picture waking up in the hotelbed at 3 am and just having no
clue what state you're in.
But what we're seeing is thatthere's an extended amount of

time for the agencies who areusing social media.
And good on you if you're doingso, but then we encourage you
now analyze your social mediaoutput.
And let's say that there is anactive shooting in your
jurisdiction and you'reresponding and you're getting
the bad guy or girl and you'retaking care of that.
Look at, do an after-action,just on your communications

alone, certainly on theoperational piece, but look at
the crisis comms and if you seethat, when the first bit of news
from your agency came out, ifit announced a shooting, that
was an active shooter incident60 minutes ago, ask yourself if
that is the appropriate amountof time.

And then if you're like, yep,that wasn't too bad, think about
if the people who are involvedin that incident they're your
mom, they're your child, they'rea member of your family,
they're your best friend, andnow they wait 60 minutes to hear
anything from you, how are youdoing your job?

And I think too often, becausecomms in some organizations they
may not be an afterthought, butthey don't always get to sit at
the big boys and big girlstable and if that's allowed to
happen, if you're a mediarelations director, your PIO is
allowed to sit with the chief,with the sheriff, to hear the

information that everyone'sgetting in that scrum at the
beginning of an incident, yourcomms folks will not immediately
start spewing out all theinformation.
If they're good at what they do, they're gonna take in the
information and they're gonnastrategize about what they need
to do.
And we still do hear caseswhere the head PIO is too far

removed from the head of theorganization.
That can't happen.
They have to be tied at the hip.
I was on those command buseswith the chiefs, the executive
command staff, to hear thelatest and to figure out we're
going live at this time.
We're putting this on social.
You're telling me I can't putthis out now.
Let me understand why got it?

Okay, you've got to bring inyour comms folks.
And because I think it's anewer concept in the grand
scheme of policing to havejournalists, former journalists,
in that role, there's a naturalhesitancy to get them too close
until they've proven they'resafe and they're not here to

burn any of these.

Steve Morreale (21:53):
I will step in just to say that that's exactly
the same thing that happens andI know, you know this when they
bring in clinicians, that you'refor it, and I liken it this way
police officers who are SROsare introduced to schools and
the next thing you know they'reinside or outsiders, and you
wait a minute, you're in mylunch room or you're in my

faculty lounge and I'm not gonnabe the same with you because I
can't trust you.
And you're right, you have toearn that trust and so do
So I hear that and it sounds tome and I really enjoy talking
about this because it's soimportant what you just said
about comms, I think part of itand then you could become a mag

or you can become an asset tothe organization by saying, okay
, I can't say that they'relooking for something, what can
we say?
What do we put out?
We don't wanna leave a gap, wewanna try to fill in the blanks.
You know, as you were talking,I'm thinking, for God's sakes,
now what's happening is and youknow cause.
You experienced it, julie,you're going on the top of the

hour, okay, so be ready at 12.01for the opening for the news
So you have to hold.
You've been there since nineo'clock, you've got a shitload
of information, but you have towait till 12.01 to release it.
But now what you're seeing iseven some of the organizations
that you just came from aretweeting from that spot right,

tweeting exing, I guess.
So who knows what we're gonnacall those things later, but we
see us following those kinds ofthings.
There's a bad accident.
What's happening?
What are they finding?
What are they seeing from thechopper?
Whatever it is, why can't I getto work or why am I in lockdown
So you know, speak to that andspeak to how important this is

How does a small departmentwith not a lot of budget have a
comms officer if they can'tafford it?
Can they share one?
Can it be regional?

Julie Parker (23:48):
One piece of guidance that I would share is
right now.
If you're that agency and let'ssay you're an agency of 15,
which these small agencies arevery common across the country
so let's say you're an agency of15 and your part-time PAO also
handles robberies whatever whena crisis hits, odds are good

they're being pulled to go intooperations mode.
So you've now just lost yourcommunicator, but the problem is
, especially if it's acontroversial, critical incident
that you're responding to, whatif it's an officer involved
shooting of an unarmed teen, forexample and you lose your PAO?

There's got to be redundancy inyour PAO office.
Even if your office is a half asurgeon who does robberies part
of the time and PAO the rest ofthe time.
Is there someone at the citylevel, the mayor's office, the
communications guy at thelibrary?
Anyone who's a good communicatorwho can serve as your backup

needs to be identified inadvance also potentially needs
the keys to the castle.
Do they have permission to havethe username and password for
the social media platforms?
Because if I'm the robbery guywho's been sent out to an active
shooting, I'm probably nottweeting, I'm probably not

talking about what's going on atthe scene, but someone needs to
, someone needs to inform thepublic that's becoming less and
less looked upon as a that wouldbe nice to have.
This is a must have, becausewhat the messages that your
communicators push out have theability to potentially save

That's where we are in thiscountry with the amount of mass
violence that everyone isexperiencing small places, large
places and if you haven'tidentified a backup, that's an
easy process to start.
Right now.
Everyone's got to have a backup, whether it's on the agency or


Steve Morreale (25:58):
I like that and I talk an awful lot.
I have never mentioned it thisway.
You got to go, go ahead.
What's the matter?
What's the matter?
You okay.

Julie Parker (26:09):
Door, the door, the door.
We're good.

Steve Morreale (26:12):
You want to go back or you want to get that.

Julie Parker (26:15):
No, she closed it.
I think I finished my thought.

Steve Morreale (26:17):
You did so what I was going to say, so let me
We're talking Julie Parker.
She is in Wilmington, NorthCarolina, right now, and Julie
is a professional incommunications crisis
communications, social media andsuch and a trainer Now all over
the country, especially dealingwith police communications.
And one of the things you justsaid is something I have said

over and over again, but not inthis domain.
I always suggest to people whoare in leadership positions
you've got to create bench depthand what you just said is
create bench depth.
You know what happens in smallpolice departments.
You may or may not know if, ifMrs Jones, who was the executive
assistant for the chief, is onvacation, nobody knows how to

order paper Nobody knows how toopen the safe.
Nobody knows Exactly and there'snobody else, and Mrs Jones
doesn't want to give that up,and so nobody else knows and the
shit hits the fan when she'saway for two weeks.
So I think this is extremelyimportant.
That's a message that's soimportant.
Develop bench depth, identifypeople who can help and don't

No, look, relationships are soimportant.
Policing is all aboutrelationships and I think you
will agree, and certainly in myday the day, the time that I
need to establish a relationshipwith the print media or with
the local stations is not in themidst of a crisis, it is well
So it's it's it's shaking handsand knowing what you need and

knowing what I can say, knowingwhat your deadline is and
providing you with storiesoutside of the crisis, because
you all have, we all have downdays, like I would love to go to
Quantico to talk about how theFBI is trained.
Could we do that Right?
Or can I follow the SRO?
Can I go to a training for howthe how a dog is trained, a

canine is trained?
Those kinds of stories areamazing and it humanizes
policing, where I think policebecome dehumanized, and so I
think there are so many greatstories.
I see them all of the time.
In fact, I just saw somethingyesterday on LinkedIn.
It's where I find a lot of ofpeople who I might want to talk
to, people who are willing tosort of put themselves out there

to tell their story, and Iremember seeing some Ohio chief
just yesterday that says said weare so understaffed, I am sick
and tired of ordering people towork 16, 18 hour days.
They need a break.
It's not good for mental health, and so I went back in the car

and I was so glad it was a slowday, but it also helped me
understand and get me out of theivory tower and know what the
people are facing, and it what agreat story, what a great
experience to step back into therace, if you will.

Julie Parker (29:04):
I hope that was shared on social media safely
during his or her shift, becausehow compelling is that to
essentially be along for theride, as the chief is not doing
the ride along but actuallyworking working a shift in that
A couple of other points I wantto make.
Steve, we're noticing aninteresting phenomenon where

some law enforcement agenciesare starting to do what the
corporate world has done for along, long time.
We now have clients who are oncrisis communications retainer.
They recognize they don't havebench depth and, for whatever
reason, they don't feel likethey can get it where they are,

whether it's not available atthe jurisdiction level, whether
they don't love the optionseither in their agency or beyond
, and so we are on call 24 seven, if and when these law
enforcement agencies need backup, and that, I find, is very
unique and they're taking a pageout of the playbook of, I'm

sure, coke and Pepsi and Nikeand Adidas and all these major

Steve Morreale (30:18):
Maybe even Bud Light.
Maybe even Bud Light, maybe.

Julie Parker (30:22):
so in their six figure PR budgets.
They have that undoubtedly Well.
Isn't it interesting that we'refinding that law enforcement
agencies are doing the samething?
Another point I want to makefor you is that in a crisis,
what we've seen is that in somecases, agencies wait too long,
ironically, to call for backupwhen it comes to crisis

communications backup.
And the longer a crisis sitsand isn't getting better with
age, the worse it is, becausethe myths and the disinformation
grows and spreads liketumbleweeds.
And if the agency involved iseither quiet or doesn't
understand how to message withwhatever the set of

circumstances they're dealingwith, the longer they wait to
get help on the crisiscommunications front,
potentially the worst thatincident becomes.
So I would encourage everyoneto identify in advance who your
crisis communications firm isgoing to be.
It doesn't need to be me, butfind someone now, because when
it happens you can't vet anyone.

You're going to be desperatelycalling everyone and their
mother to see if anyone knowssomeone.
And what if you get that firmthat you don't agree with the
way they think?
You don't like their headperson, you don't like the
junior person they've assignedyou or they don't understand
policing, that's reallyimportant.
It's very niche.
It is very niche, I know thatand yeah, I didn't know that as

a reporter, come in and I waslike oh, let me just start
talking about homicides.
Well, you learn very quicklywhat you can say and how, if you
say that you could ruin ahomicide investigation.
So you're right.
It's a niche profession Crisiscommunications, work for law
enforcement and for better.

Steve Morreale (32:03):
Okay, but I want to ask this question and the
but probably implies that I'mnot on your side with this, I am
The question that I have is andthe experience you might have
had is where do they get themoney for this?
I mean, think about that, thinkabout where do I put that in my
Because I don't have such aline for my budget, but if the
shit hits the fan, I wish Icould draw on it, because the
budgets are so so you know, whenyou're getting dragged in for

training, you know there's onlyso much money that they can pay
So, because this is a publicorganization, go ahead.

Julie Parker (32:31):
Well, here you're making excellent points and
there's something that I findfascinating we have.
We have talked to people aboutthe importance of crisis
communications, training,learning it in advance, and many
times, just as you said, theagency said we'd love to, we
don't have the money.
But I can almost guarantee youthat if that jurisdiction
experiences a crisis, theyalways find the money for the

crisis communications becausethey are panic.

Steve Morreale (32:59):
They're ill prepared.
They're ill prepared, that'sright.

Julie Parker (33:02):
They're either ill prepared they decided not to do
training, and now the crisishas landed and they'll do
anything to make the crisis stopor they were trained, they
tried to say the appropriatethings and, for whatever reason,
it didn't work.

Steve Morreale (33:17):
Julie, let me ask you this.
Here's what I'm beginning tohear.
Not that I haven't heardeverything you've said so far,
but I guess what you want to sayis stay in your lane.
If you're a police chief,you've got specific skills.
You understand how to marshalthe troops, how to check on
what's happening, how to shutthe street down Maybe not you,
but asking these questions, butknow your strengths and I know

that outside consultants myselfcoming as outside consultant to
yourself that there arequestions that we will pose that
sometimes seem like they'reobtuse, they're from left field,
but it's because of the way wethink and we're thinking without
the hindrance of the day to daypressure that's on me during
this crisis.
I've got to do this, I've got todo that.
This guy's calling for me, thegovernor's calling me Boom Bang,

and I'm going to ask you, ifyou're a consultant, if you will
can stand back and say when thetime is right.
All right, jim chief, let'stalk about what we can do.
Here's what I'm thinking.
What are you thinking?
What do you want to say?
Leading the crisis throughquestions so that we can come up
with a strategy.

Julie Parker (34:17):
The chiefs are dealing with the five of war.
There, you go, and there arepolice chiefs across this
country who are exceptionalcommunicators.
They don't need outside help andthey know it, they know this is
one of their strengths, and anyagency that has a communicator
like that at the top is in farbetter shape, obviously, than an
agency that is in the spotlightwith someone who doesn't know

how to communicate or can, orit's just not their thing.
To your point, know yourstrengths and know your
weaknesses, and if you knowright now that we are just an
agency that does not havecommunications capacity, we
don't have those capabilitieswhat can you do to identify them
today elsewhere?

Steve Morreale (34:53):
That's great.
So tell me what you're doing intraining.
Tell me, when you're walkinginto an organization, what
you're finding, what kind offeedback you're getting, what
kind of concerns they have.

Julie Parker (35:04):
If I were to summarize it, they're afraid of
the cameras, without question.
Even sometimes strongcommunicators, naturally, are
afraid of the cameras becauseyou are vulnerable, especially
for police officers.
You're not accustomed to beingvulnerable.
That's really not Well.
I shouldn't say that becausethere are certainly situations
that are terrifying and wherethey're in immediate danger.

But generally speaking, on aday to day, all is calm, blue
skies, kind of day.
They're in charge.
But when there's a microphoneshoved in your face with
potentially a very opinionatedquestion being thrown at you
where a judgment perhaps isalready made as the question is
asked, you've got to rely upon,hopefully, your training,

communication skills, realizingyou're not going to be on the
You're going to share the factsbut you're also going to share
a message.
There's so much that goes intobeing camera ready that I think,
generally speaking, it's safeto say people who we train know
that they should be doing moreto get ready.
But everything in life, if ourto-do list is 30 points long for

the morning, it's really hardto say you know what We've been
meaning to do this.
Let's go to our conference roomand do a dry run of a news
conference that could happen inour jurisdiction.

Steve Morreale (36:19):
What questions might come our way?

Julie Parker (36:21):
Yeah, people want to do that.
They know that would be helpful.
But who does that realistically?

Intro/Outro (36:25):
Very few people.

Julie Parker (36:27):
One, it's knowing that you are perhaps not as
ready as you could be for thecameras.
We hear that very often.
Two as long as social media hasbeen around for law enforcement
and this is a while now we'vebeen using it.
We're using X, whatever.
Now agencies are on TikTok or,if they're allowed to in their
jurisdiction, they're getting onthreads and not sure what they

should do on threads.
They're not sure if they'regetting traction on threads.
Everything is new on socialmedia all the time, mr encrypted
, please be.
Two agencies are not usingsocial media enough up to its
full capability in the midst ofa crisis, because your
communicators are overwhelmedwith the crisis.
And I think there's the goingback to our earlier part of the

conversation that bench depthperhaps isn't identified in
But then there's a third piecethat more so we see when we
respond to the crisis ascompared to when we go across
the country to do training, andthat is a failure to show up
For example, something happensin your jurisdiction and your

news conference is too little,too late.
You do a news conference, airquotes and you don't take
reporter questions.
That's not a news conference.
You don't share information onsocial media but perhaps let's
say a post or two.
In some ways it almost lookslike a checking of the boxes.
It may or may not be that, butfor the public, who sees just a

little bit but not a whole fullresponse to a crisis, that is
something that does stand out.
On the crisis response side ofthings is a failure to show up.

Steve Morreale (38:06):
You know it's interesting.
First of all, you can tell thatdone this you're invested in it
, your experience A couple.
I look at myself and this Iguess it's not about me, but I
am an educator now, but I was apractitioner and so I call
myself a pracademic.
I say you wear the same thing ina lot of ways that you were on
the other side and now you havesort of bought in.

The only reason you bought inis because you played in the
You got to know firsthand howit was, and then you take this
information and pass it forwardto other agencies that
absolutely need it.
I remember doing a training forDEA, PIO and we were setting
people up.
I'll never forget this and wehad written sort of the scenario
okay, you're on the street,there's a couple of cameras, so

we've got a couple of cameras,video cams that are pointed at
somebody, and somebody's got amicrophone and I'm the guy with
the microphone putting it in theface of someone who was a
resident agent charge out of theMidwest, and I asked questions
and I knew something that hadhappened there.
So they were out there onarrest.
It was supposed to be this andthis is the curve ball people.
So it happens that when thepresident is out there all of
the time, you're here to talkabout the meeting I just had

with the prime minister ofEngland and you say, but what
about Hunter Biden, whatever itmight be Like.
What the hell does this have todo?
So I had said hey, we know thatone of your agents was arrested
and is on administrative leave.
And the guy looked at me likeyou son of a bitch, I can't
believe you.
Threw it at me and his legswere so long.
He actually tried to reach upand kick me towards my hootsies
right and I was.

He kind of caught me there andI was pissed off, but I knew I
had gotten to him and my pointis this sometimes those role
plays can be very valuable.
By the way, we're talking JulieParker, the president and CEO
of Julie Parker Communication,down in North Carolina and
travels all over the country.
I'll never forget about.
Three months later, the guy whohad tried to kick me called me
back and said Steve, it happenedand I was ready.

So here he was pissed at me,but because we had put him
through those paces your head isshaking it got him ready.
It was almost like gettingready for a raid and knowing
where to hide or so that youdon't get shot.
It's the same idea, right,julie?

Julie Parker (40:07):
That's what you do .
That's what we do in ourtrainings.
When we get the time where wecan record a news conference,
let the group who did it discussstrengths and weaknesses.
We share what we feel with thestrengths and weaknesses and
then watch it back.
One of the most eye-openingthings takeaways for people is I
didn't know I blinked so much.

I didn't know I was grippingthe lectern like within an inch
of its life.
I didn't know I kept tapping mypen and you don't know until
you do it.
And that's why I said earlierwe all know that we probably
should be doing what you justdescribed and what I'm
In the day to day, it's justeasy to overlook those things.
But because there can besomething in your jurisdiction

at any moment, we're just in anage where there's no more.
Oh, I never thought it couldhappen to me.
You're nuts if you think itcan't happen to you, because
that's what it's happeningeverywhere.
And so if you don't practicethis piece, you can perform the
operation flawlessly, you cansave the day, you can be heroes
in blue and save the dayoperationally and you can fall

hard when it comes to yourcrisis communications.
And if you think the public isgonna give you a pass because
you were a hero one minute butthen your comms bombed.
They don't they remember it.
The PR piece is very real andit does matter.

Steve Morreale (41:29):
And once it's recorded, it can be played over
and over and over and over andover again on a loop which
drives me crazy, but it canInteresting.
You say that because one of theone of, again, my pet peeves.
When I watch it I'm prettycritical and the more I do
podcasts, I realize howimportant audio is and how
important the Oz and the Oomsand the Oos and the double words
and and and, and I catch myself.

Certainly I'm not perfect atthis, but very much troubles me
when an agency will allowsomebody who was just involved
in an incident to speak oncamera.
I think that's an extra.
Oh well, it doesn't matter.

Julie Parker (42:02):
When does that happen, Steve?
That doesn't happen.

Steve Morreale (42:03):
It absolutely happens.
I know I'll tell you afterwards, but it happens all of the time
So you just wrestled withsomebody and they're on the
scene and you're still revved up, you've got adrenaline and
you're getting a microphonepushed in your face.
That's one where you say nocomment, I'd like you to talk
with my press officer or mymedia relations officer, please,
and that's what happens.
I think that's a big mistake,no different than what we

watched even.
I mean, think about the thingsthat happened January 6th.
We heard from people after thefact, after things had calmed
I know you work with theCapitol Police.
I mean that troubles me.
I'll tell you one more thing,one thing that I caught.
I pay attention to people whotestify and such, and I think
experience can be the difference.
Not everybody can do what it isthat you're suggesting to stand

in front of a camera and tomanage effectively
So it has to be the rightperson I think you would agree
Somebody who's got some trainingand who is ready.
But I was watching the ATFtestimony, if you remember.
It was the two ATF agents whowere talking about the
It happened to be about HunterBiden and how they felt it had
been closed down.
I was listening to, having beena manager myself with TEA and

having the senior special agentspeak and the person who was two
ranks above you could tell thedifference in terms of the
maturity, the ability to pulltogether a thought.
It's practice what you'resaying.
So I wanna ask this questionCould it be a sworn officer?
Except when it is, it could bethat that sworn officer gets
taken off because he or she is asworn officer and that must be

on the scene and cannot payattention to the comms.
To civilianize this positionmay be a little bit
uncomfortable to some, but I'dlike you to address that.

Julie Parker (43:40):
I like a hybrid media relations office, public
affairs office, pio office,whatever you call it.
I worked in two hybrid shopsand for me, I learned from the
The sworn officers learned fromme.
There were certain instanceswhere it made absolute sense for
only a sworn to go on camera.
In some cases I could handle itand I think there's tremendous

value in that.
If the agency has the resourcesto do both and I'm biased, but
I truly think hiring a mediaprofessional to do a media job
makes perfect sense.
That person will need to betrained.
They may not get the trainingand they may be shoved in front
of the cameras and that may behow you learn.
But an important point to makeis that as you determine who

your messenger is for whateverwe're talking about a series of
burglaries or a mass casualtyincident I think on the police
side there's a tendency to thinkit's got to be the chief or
it's got to be the major of CID,or it's got to be Remember to
the public.
They just want to hear fromsomeone who can message well,

who's going to give informationthat matters, relevant
information, who they findcredible and the public is less
concerned with.
Is it a major?
Is it a capital?

Steve Morreale (44:58):
How many stars do they have on their shoulders?

Julie Parker (45:00):
No, no no, no, Some cases it really truly
should be.
It's obvious it should be thesheriff, it's obvious it should
be the police chief.
But I think agencies shouldgive themselves a little bit of
slack when it comes to we must,we must, we must, and think
about who are our strongmessengers and create a deep
bench of those people to callupon as needed.

Steve Morreale (45:22):
So I'm sure when you were in the field and I'm
talking about in the news fieldthat you created a number of
relationships long before youneeded them.
You were reaching out to peoplewho could give you some
information, could kind of giveyou some backstory so that you
could put together a good story.
How did that translate when youwalked from the news operation

to the police operation?

Julie Parker (45:44):
It translated in that I knew that we would have
leaks from within our department, because I used to have people
within the department.

Steve Morreale (45:52):
You were one of the ones using the looking for
the leaks.
I got you.

Julie Parker (45:57):
And you, just you have to understand that.
That is just human nature, thatinformation is power and people
want to control the power.
And when stories get out, veryoften you'll hear leadership say
why does that get?
we've got to find out how thatgot out and I'd be less
concerned about how it got outand how we're going to manage
the fact that it got out If itgot out before we were ready for
it to get out.

Well, okay, it got out.
What are we going to do aboutthis?
So it is important to know.
This is interesting.
I've got a network on right nowand I'm looking at their crawl,
their graphic, and they'vemisspelled leaders while talking
about it in South Korea this isa state of the media point that
I'm making.
Sorry that distracted me.

Steve Morreale (46:35):
That's okay, that's okay.
I pay attention to this.
I've well listen.
They don't even know how tospell that.
I know I understand that.
Remember, it's probably anintern who wrote that and didn't
have spell check on it.
Yeah, on the cry.
I truly I've lost track of it,no, so we, while we were talking
about leaks and I would sayinformants or people in the know
, to get some backgroundinformation or an unnamed source

, those kinds of things, and soit becomes important.
But let me say this once theleak happened, I think in my
mind you have to say all right,this information, we don't know
where it came from.
It is only partially true.
Let us fill in the blanks.
This is what's going on, thisis what we know, this is what
we're trying to determine.
We will be back to you, butthis is what we know so far.

Julie Parker (47:15):
In some cases, you're just going to have to be
It's ideal to be proactive whenmessaging, but in so many
instances you're going to haveto be reactive.
Think about right now whoever'sin charge of your
One are they monitoring?
So you know whatever's outthere, whether it's media or
social media.
Something else you've got to beaware that the leak has

The information is out.
How quickly can you operateinternally to spin yourself up,
to be able to get out a message?
Urgency is key, and that is onething we do see.
It goes hand in hand with showup.
When there's a crisis, whenit's time to talk to the public,
show up.

And if you're too slow and ifyou diminish the power of social
media which happens far toooften and I think that it
happens truly out of a lack ofunderstanding social media,
understanding how rapidly it cantake off on you, can you get

activated as you need to to beable to respond to something
when it comes to comms?
So a lack of urgency can reallyhurt you.
And another point that I think,going back to who your key
messenger is for whatever theincident, law enforcement
leaders right now can usecommunity meetings as a way to

And I'm not saying that todiminish a community meeting.
I'm saying when you get up on astage or a panel or whatever
your community meetings looklike, and you've got, let's say,
anywhere from five to 55 peoplelooking at you and probably
needing something from you,wanting information from you in
some way, shape or form, it's agreat venue to practice

messaging and to see how youcome across.
Do I appear defensive?
Am I rambling wildly and I hadtoo much coffee?
I need to know to cut myselfoff before I do a news
It's a good training ground toget ready for the media.
However, don't diminish thepower of a community meeting.
Ideally, you're practicingbefore you get there, but it's

just another avenue to helpyourself improve.

Steve Morreale (49:31):
You know one of the things that I spent so much
time in the classroom and bothclassroom and in leadership,
presentations and facilitationsthat I do there's times when you
have to say, put a period on it, answer the question, and then
put a period on it and wait forthe next question Exactly
Because sometimes you have tolisten as opposed to be the only
one speaking.
I think of Charlie Moose andwhat ended up happening in the
shootings, the sniper shootingsthat were going on down there,

and how we were all waiting wedidn't have the benefit of
social media how we were waitingfor him to come out and tell
the story.
We began to command that storyOver time was a horrible story
and people were petrified, asyou know, but we've seen that
We've lived through this.
One thing, too, I will say forthose who were listening, who
may or may not know, that if youdo not have a Google alert
created for your policedepartment or something like

that, I think it's crazy.
The way that social media isgoing to notify you is if you
follow certain things and followthe stations that you want to
hear from, so that you'regetting a little ding to say, oh
, they already know this ishappening.
We've got those kinds of things.
We have to be proactive in thatway, creating a Google alert
that says I have a Google alertfor Steve Morreale.
What are people saying about mein the media, in case?

Julie Parker (50:35):
What are they saying, Steve?

Steve Morreale (50:37):
Hopefully they're saying good things, but
I really don't know.
But I think that's so important.
So, listen, I don't want totake a whole bunch more of your
time, but I do want to give youthe opportunity to sort of do a
wrap up and give you the lastword If you are standing and I
know you do this regularly infront of a group of chiefs.
You just finished with theNorth Carolina chiefs, among
others, in a couple of sentences.

What's your message to thosewho are in positions of
leadership that are dealing withany number of things about

Julie Parker (51:07):
One urgency You've got to get out there as soon as
possible because social mediamoves so quickly.
Two, I want them to be thechiefs that I know.
I want them to be the realpeople that they are when
they're up there.
It makes such a difference ifyou hear from a chief who, let's
say, is up there talking abouta homicide involving a child and

that chief comes across withnormal emotions that would be
associated with something ashorrific as that.
I don't want them to be roboticand the reason is in part
because you can't take thereporter out of the reporter.
That will always be sort ofwhat I draw upon.
I want to hear something thatmakes me feel something from a

reporter standpoint.
But the reason why reporterswant that is because the public
relates to it, and if you standup there and you read a script
and you talk with military timeand a bunch of police jargon and
you come across as robotic,you're missing an opportunity to
truly communicate.

Steve Morreale (52:10):
To humanize that police department.

Julie Parker (52:12):
Yeah, you're conveying information, but
I want you to make the publicfeel something, because many
times the police need somethingfrom the public.
We need you to call, we needyou to look at your video, we
need you to do something.
And in order to make people dosomething, they need to feel
like they know you, in somecases, feel like they like you,

but convey that information insuch a way that you're going to
grab their attention.
And because everyone'sattention is so divided, now
it's more important than everthat you get to the point
We can't keep writing newsreleases that read like police
We've got to communicate in away that people can absorb it in
no time flat, while I'm on thephone, while I'm making dinner,

while the dog's barking, and nowI hear something from the
police chief saying call1-800-STOP-CRIME or whatever.
I can absorb that quickly andit can't be these long, rambling
police report like newsreleases and news conferences.

Steve Morreale (53:10):
Well, I'm hearing a couple of things that
the spokesman has to be genuine,they have to be transparent,
they have to be humanistic andhumanized and realize that when
a serious accident happened,when there's a loss of life at a
fire, when there's a loss oflife in any way, and especially
if it's a child, that we all andI think there's the common
denominator We've all got kids,we've all got grandkids, we all

have neighbors that age, and whydid we sign up?
To protect and to serve, but toserve, which is important, to
Otherwise, we've been talkingto Julie Parker and I certainly
appreciate finally finding thetime to chat with you.
How do people get in touch withyou, julie?

Julie Parker (53:46):
You can certainly follow me on LinkedIn, very
active there it's under JulieParker.
I'm on Twitter X, you know.

Steve Morreale (53:53):
I don't know what the hell they're calling it

Julie Parker (53:55):
At Julie Parker.
Our website isJulieParkerCommunications.
com, where you can find out moreabout what we do and how to get
a quote for what you might need, and I think those are probably
the top three ways to reach me.
That's great.

Steve Morreale (54:09):
Well, I appreciate it.
We've been talking aboutcommunications, about media
relations, about using socialmedia, and I hope that audience
gained as much as I did from ourconversation, so I thank you
very, very much for being Julie.

Julie Parker (54:22):
Thanks, Steve, I appreciate it.

Steve Morreale (54:24):
I wish you the best of luck.
Stand by for more episodes.
We have another one in the can.
If you have somebody who is athought leader, who is
innovative, who can bring ideasto our industry, please reach
out for me at copdocpodcast.
I'm Steve Morreale in Boston.
You've been listening to TheCop Doc Podcast.

Have a good day.

Intro/Outro (54:47):
Thanks for listening to The Cop Doc Podcast
with Dr.
Steve Morreale.
Steve is a retired lawenforcement practitioner and
manager, turned academic andscholar from Worcester State
Please tune into The Cop DocPodcast for regular episodes of
interviews with thought leadersin policing.
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