SAE Communications

Photo: Sheri Benninghoven

Sheri Benninghoven
APR, President
SAE Communications

Sheri Benninghoven the former Communications Director of the League of California Cities, and one of California's most experienced public relations professionals in helping state and local governments develop strategic public communications programs.

Sheri has extensive experience and working knowledge of journalism, local government operations and finance, public relations and public affairs, State government, crisis communications, and communications research. A graduate of California State University, Fullerton with a degree in Communications and Public Relations, she also graduated from the Public Sector Marketing series from Public Technology, Incorporated (PTI) in Washington, D.C.

Sheri is a past member of the adjunct faculty of the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles. She joined the private sector in 1991 to start her own consulting firm after nearly two decades in local government public communications and media relations, specializing in helping state and local governments identify messages and communicate effectively with target audiences. She is a former Vice President/Group Manager for Ketchum Public Relations (Los Angeles/Sacramento), the world's fifth largest public relations firm. She founded their Public Sector Marketing Group and also created their California Technology Practice Group. Her technology clients ranged from Packard Bell, NEC and Sun to Mattel's Barbie CDs, Encyclopedia Britannica's CD launch and NetRadio.

Sheri also served as Public Information Officer for the City of Anaheim, preparing and implementing communications plans for the city and each city department, including Anaheim Stadium, the Anaheim Convention Center, the Anaheim Redevelopment Agency, and two city-owned golf courses. She has extensive crisis communications experience, serving on the front lines handling incident communications for a myriad of disasters, from wildfires and urban fires to hazardous materials spills and hostage incidents.

She is a past president of the California Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, from which she's accredited; a member and past board member of the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO) and a recipient of their lifetime achievement award; and is a founder/past board member of the City-County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA).

Photo: Scott Summerfield

Scott Summerfield

Scott Summerfield an expert in public agency strategic communications with nearly two decades of award-winning public information/public participation experience, along with tenures at several other organizations focused on community issues. Scott specializes in assisting organizations with their communications plan development and training programs, and supervises SAE Communications' San Francisco Bay Area activities from his Pleasanton office.

Scott is the former Public Information Officer for the City of Newark and managed the largest grant program in League of California Cities history, supervising a team of nine consultants throughout the state who worked with local communities to implement waste prevention public education and public participation projects.

Community meeting facilitation and structuring of public input processes are a cornerstone of his municipal background, and Scott's public participation approach of identifying all possible affected audiences and then creating a communications program to reach each audience member has served his organizations well.

Scott also served as Director of Communications for the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. The Oakland native is a graduate of San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in Telecommunications/Film.

Scott is a past president of the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO) and recipient of their lifetime achievement award; a board member of the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame; a former executive board member of the City-County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA); a board member of the Bay Area Cable Excellence Awards; a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles; and is a crisis communications instructor at the California Specialized Training Institute.

Emergency Response Plan
Emergency Public Information Annex

Working hand-in-hand with the Media Survival Group team, SAE Communications principals Sheri Benninghoven and Scott Summerfield will begin work with your agency's staff to determine the most important public information needs that you'll have during an incident. We'll learn about the hazards that keep you up at night, but we'll also explore your staffing strengths and weaknesses, media relations challenges, political and leadership issues, internal and external agency relationships, and many other facets of emergency planning.

Our approach is to ensure your annex isn't just NIMS compliant, but that it will really work when it has to: during the incident. We accomplish this by conducting on-the-ground research with you and your colleagues, reviewing past media coverage of area crises, and conducting online research regarding issues which will impact your response and communications capabilities.

From there, we'll craft a tailored stand-alone plan or annex to your emergency response plan. You'll receive a practical document which guides your efforts from notification to establishment of your emergency public information team to preparing and disseminating information. Chapters will cover how the Joint Information System works, how to set up your Joint Information Center, and how to craft key messages; checklists for all functions are included, along with guidelines on how to manage media access, assemble PIO Go-Kits, and much more.