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Practice makes perfect at public affairs managers course

On camera interview

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. George Roach, a public affairs superintendent assigned to the 11th Attack Wing in Pennsylvania, answers mock media questions as part of a simulated aircraft mishap, May 8, 2019, during the Public Affairs Management Course at the Air National Guard’s education center on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in East Tennessee. The course includes two weeks of instruction on how to run a successful Air Force public affairs office. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. --

U.S. Air Force Airmen who practice public affairs at Air National Guard bases across the nation answered mock media questions, May 8, 2019, during the Public Affairs Management Course at the education center on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in East Tennessee.

Their on-camera practice and peer reviews may help them when a real crisis arrives at their units, along with an interested public.

The course includes two weeks of instruction on how to run a successful Air Force public affairs shop.

It is also one of the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center's first professional continuing education courses offered, added with the enlisted leadership and commissioning programs here decades ago, and introduced as the Audio Visual Management Course.

All Air National Guard wings run public affairs offices. They include public affairs officers trained in media relations and crisis communication as well as an enlisted staff skilled in mass communications; like videography, photography, print and broadcast journalism, web and social media management, among other essential work to keep the public informed about the military.

Instructors noted that public affairs offices are prone to constant career-field changes as well as media trends and advancing technology. They recommend fulltime staff take the course every two to three years — they train roughly 50 students a year.

Guest speakers included subject matter experts from the National Guard Bureau and Pentagon public affairs offices, who shared broader practices and trends in the Department of Defense.

Students also reviewed and shared their best practices, including those career-field programs from offices recognized as the best doing it.