The public information systems training from FEMA fits in with our class understanding of crisis communication. It is essentially an extension of what we have already learned that both reviews and supplements the idea of public relations during a crisis. We have learned a plethora of information about a variety of different nuances within the subject of crisis communication, and many of these things are also applicable to FEMA’s NIMS.
NIMS fits in with our understanding because it talks about many features of public relations. This includes making sure the public receives nuggets of information, or small, concise, essential bits of information. NIMS also supports the ICS, which we used to help structure our mock press conference. ICS does a good job in itself of summarizing many things we have learned about crisis communication, and NIMS simply adds onto it. NIMS also fits into our understanding by showing the important aspects of public relations. Being truthful to the public, releasing information as quickly as possible, and making sure the media is sending the right message all supplement our understanding of public relations in crisis communication.
NIMS provides additional information to what we have covered in the form of the PIO, or Public Information Officer. According to FEMA a PIO is
Under the Incident Command System (ICS)—the system that defines the operating characteristics, management components, and organizational structure under NIMS—the PIO is a key staff member supporting the Incident Command structure. The PIO advises and represents the Incident Command on all public information matters relating to the management of the incident.
As is evident in the chart, the PIO is a very important member of the ICS. This should show how important effective public relations is to crisis communication, which is a major part of our understanding of crisis communication. The PIO teaches us new information in how to effectively communicate during a crisis. This persons job is handle all media relations, and one thing he or she must do that we had not discussed was to make sure the media is sending the right message and correct it if they are not.
Overall FEMA’s public information systems training fits in with our class understanding of crisis communication very well. It reinforces concepts of effective public relations we have previously discussed and sheds new light on the subject at the same time.