15 to Watch (Corporate/Nonprofit): Michael Odle

Public Affairs Officer, Oregon Air National Guard Reserves Age: 29

Bursting onto the public affairs and communications scene at the ripe old age of 21, Michael Odle has established himself as a seasoned PR practitioner in eight short years. Odle, based in Klamath Falls, Ore., is often called upon to assist in crisis response, controversial issues and sensitive subjects. Blending traditional and social media tools, he has handled wildfires, aircraft crashes, and search-and-rescue operations. Most notably he was involved in such high-profile events such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and presidential visits. Odle is also regional public affairs chief for the Bureau of Reclamation in Billings, Mont. He’s often a guest presenter at events, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Risk and Crisis Communication Forum.

Candid Cameras

“During emergency flood operations this year in North Dakota, we installed Web cameras at our Jamestown Dam facility,” he says. “This reduced pedestrian and vehicle traffic to the dam, thus easing congestion for emergency crews and provided 24-hour live video of the ongoing flood situation for the public to view from their homes.”

Information Overload

“It’s always a challenge in the fog of a risk/crisis issue to get timely and accurate information in this day and age of instant communication. ”

Solemn Responsibility

“This job has never been more important than when it’s my responsibility to communicate a fatality. Being prepared with a crisis communication plan led to the release of timely and accurate information when my team responded to the largest firefighter aviation disaster in U.S. history. That’s when your job matters most.” â–