Lauri-Ellen Smith, MPIO, APR

Lauri-Ellen Smith, APR, has experience in government and corporate public relations that includes serving as communications lead in more than 30 Incident/Unified Commands since her career took a turn in the direction of emergency/crisis/risk communication and management, with her appointment as spokesperson for Super Bowl XXXIX (39) Safety and Security and lead PIO for the event.

She has “stood up” or run many Joint Information Centers for hurricanes; high-profile murder trials; industrial incidents; civil unrest/riot; and a campus shooting all during her 14-year tenure as the appointed press secretary to two elected Sheriffs in Florida and a Mayor in Mississippi. She led the PIO unit and served as lead comms strategist/press secretary for the nation’s 14th- largest law enforcement agency, and then served as a Community Relations Director on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Government Relations Officer and Emergency Management in a state regulatory agency’s regional offices. Today, Smith is a crisis/risk communications strategist and media trainer for C-Suite members and non government spokespersons, as well as a designer and trainer of emergency management tabletop exercises. In her “prior PR life” Smith spent 10 years as the PR/Marketing Director for a large health system, serving as their government affairs director and lobbying at the state and federal level. She most notably advocated for healthcare portability and tort reform and co-authored a best practice on communicating adverse medical incidents.

Lauri-Ellen advises clients (government, first responders, healthcare, higher education, utilities, and private corporations) on their integrated marketing/communications and public affairs programming. She most enjoys developing tactical strategies and policy development/support; analyzing/supporting PIO staffs' functionality and JIC skills; training spokespersons; teaching social media best practices; and advancing common-sense social media policies. She is highly regarded as an advisor on risk/reputation management and front-line worker customer service training. Smith serves on the Board and Executive Committee of PRSA's Public Affairs and Government Section. She is the 2015 recipient of the Lloyd B. Dennis Distinguished Service Award in Public Affairs, PRSA’s highest honor for PAO’s and PIOs. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the nationally ranked PR program at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

She is a 2021 graduate of FEMA’s Master PIO (MPIO) program and now joins an elite group of the nation’s top emergency management crisis communicators – the first (and currently only) credentialled MPIO in her adopted state of Mississippi.


Owner CAT 5 Crisis Communications, Inc.