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Blog 3: Public Information System

FEMA’s public information systems training fits with our class understanding of crisis or disaster communication; this connection with our class understanding can be seen in our discussion of the CERC lifecycle, and in our recent crisis/disaster PR campaigns because the NIMS, or public information systems training, is closely related to the presentation’s main goal of communicating a crisis and its risks and outcomes to the media and public.

NIMS is a public information system builds off of the ICS, which we used to form our roles in our recent class PR assignments. NIMS has a key staff member supporting the ICS, it is the public information officer (PIO)  and that person is in charge of the of the following: processes, procedures, and systems for communicating accurate, timely, easy accessible, and accurate information to the public. The information being released is focuses on the following: the incident’s cause, size, and current state, the resources used, and other matters of general interest to the public, stakeholders, and responders. As mentioned, The PIO is responsible for getting out information about a crisis in not only a timely manner, but also must release information in a prioritized fashion, putting out certain information at specific times in order to reduce panic and confusion.

The Public information officer working during Hurricane Rita in this video did do an effective job of keeping the public in mind by asking the media to have an understanding of the situation in order to not confuse the public. However, this officer mostly exemplifies some things a PIO should not do. The way he addressed the media was not all too effective because he did not answer questions pertaining to events before this interaction with the media or the future (a few months from the interaction). 

Another way in which the training correlates to what we have discussed in class is in what actions should be taken before a crisis even happens. In class we discussed the crisis lifecycle and the first phase is the pre-crisis phase; during the pre-crisis phase an organization is to plan, foster alliances with news outlets and media, and gather resources. The FEMA training for NIMS also touched on pre-crisis actions an organization should take; organizations should gather resources, such as a to-go kit, and form relationships with news outlets.

The information provided in the training definitely provides additional information to what we have covered so far. The detailed explanations of how crisis communication is to be executed and managed in real national disaster situations during all stages. Also, concepts such as the Joint Information System (JIS) provide extra understanding on how to organize, integrate, and coordinate information in order to ensure timely, accurate, accessible, and consistent messaging across many levels from all areas (governmental, nongovernmental, and private sector).  The JIS is the mechanism for planning, but the operations need a location to take place and that is the Joint Information Center (JIC). The JIC is where personnel with the PIO responsibilities perform necessary emergency information functions, crisis communications, and public affairs functions. FEMA also described the benefits of the JIC: pooling resources, central location to work, strength in numbers, safety, and recognized source. The public information system is closely related to the information discussed in class while also providing a surplus of information on how to interact across levels of a crisis.

  1. October 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Good post and overview of the topics. Very thorough. The analysis of the press conference video is very good also. I think I’ll show some of these to the class next time I teach this. Or have students do just what you’ve done here, find a video, link to it, and critique it. So, thanks for the ideas.

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