After running social media for their respective departments and noticing a need for training specifically for public safety officials, Muncie Police Officer Chase Winkle and retired sheriff’s deputy Joe Krupa decided to start social media training of their own.
“Typically, you’re going to have someone from a marketing background or somebody from a news or journalism background [teaching]. We found that they can come in and teach the material, but we’ve actually done the marketing side for a police agency, so we kind of bring that firsthand knowledge,“ Winkle said.
The Police Social Media Academy began in 2017 in Muncie. Attendees learn about topics such as what and when to post on social media, how to deal with criticism and algorithms. After spending the past year and a half traveling around Indiana hosting classes, they’re now taking it to the national level, with upcoming trainings scheduled in Pennsylvania and California.
“The first time I got a call from California, I was like man, is this real life? How are they finding out about us?” Winkle said. “To actually have dates on the calendar for Pennsylvania, for California and to have the seats in the class actually selling, and they’re selling fast, is pretty awesome.”
Even though all of the past PSMA classes have been located in Indiana, they’ve still attracted people from across the country.
Lana Urteaga is a sergeant in the Office of Public Information for Garden City, Kansas Police. While looking online for trainings, she found PSMA.
“I started reading the content on the website and saw it was info that would be very helpful for me in my position, so that's kind of how I ended up here in Indiana,” Urteaga said.
As part of her job, Urteaga does media relations and community events as well as running her department’s social media accounts. She uses social media to try to show that law enforcement officers are just like everyday people, and by getting people’s attention that way, they’ll be following when important messages are put out..
“[Social media is] a vital part of our everyday lives now. We can’t hide from social media anymore, so we embrace it,” Urteaga said.
Jordan Yuodis is a public information officer for Buechel Fire and EMS in Louisville, Kentucky. He found PSMA online and said since everyone is on social media, he needs to become a master of it to get information to people when it counts.
“For me, [social media] is an everyday thing … most of the things that I do are on Twitter. I’m sending things out constantly,” Yuodis said.
While in the PSMA class, there was a fire in Louisville, and Yuodis used social media to relay information from Muncie.
“Everything that I needed to get out to the media about yesterday’s fire, I put out on Twitter. There was never any phone conversations or emails or anything like that, it was all strictly through Twitter,” Yuodis said. “Social media is probably the #2 thing that is involved with my job description as a PIO.”
To find out more about PSMA or sign up for a training, visit psmatraining.com.