Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana State to host Crisis Communications for Leaders conference

July 22, 2011

Indiana State University will host a conference to inform people about best practices for communications during a crisis or other stressful situations.

The "Crisis Communications for Leaders" conference will take place Sept. 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Hulman Memorial Student Union, DEDE III. The conference will feature several speakers, including J. Edward Fox, who served as assistant secretary for public affairs for the Department of Homeland Security. People attending the conference will learn how to formulate a communications plan for crisis situations, including objectives to accomplish and what audiences to involve, said Richard Baker, director of ISU's Center for Crisis Leadership and Homeland Security who is organizing the conference.

"Anybody who's in a position of leadership can be in a crisis at some time or another," Baker said. "Many people just don't think about it until they're in it."

The event will cost $99, and people can register on the Internet at: Participants may also register on-site on Sept. 15 for $119.

Baker and Harry Minniear, chair of the aviation technology department, discussed the examples of crises that can range from a life-threatening crime occurring to natural disasters to businesses that lay off workers because of declining revenue.

"These are the kinds of things that we want people to be able to address, and know what kinds of communications need to be done," Baker said.

Fox will speak about his experiences in the Department of Homeland Security. Another speaker, Dan Millar, will discuss crisis situations in the corporate world, including some of his work as a consultant. Speaker Darrel Zeck, director of public affairs for the City of Terre Haute, will discuss communications from a government perspective, as well as from his experiences in the Air National Guard.

They also will be part of a panel discussion in the afternoon, which will discuss how social media affects crisis communications. The idea came up, in part, based on how social networking was involved with the events that were part of the "Arab Spring" revolutions in the Middle East.

"How is all that social networking affecting things in the world today, and how will it impact crisis and what a leader can do?" Baker asked. "Some see it as a positive, some see it as a negative. It's like any other tool; it can be used both ways."

Photo: (ISU/Tony Campbell)
Richard Baker during a January meeting with emergency responders and other officials, who learned about the Center for Unmanned Systems and the Center for Crisis Leadership and Homeland Security.

Contact: Richard Baker, assistant professor, aviation technology, College of Technology, Indiana State University, 812-237-2641 or

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or