I Thank You, FEMA
FEMA’s public information systems training fit with out class understanding of crisis and disaster communication very well. In a class focuses entirely on how to handle crises appropriately, it’s very logical to model our lessons after a professional and well respected organization such as FEMA. Even before taking this class, when I thought of crisis, such as natural disasters, I always immediately thought of FEMA because they are the professionals who know how to handle these difficult situations.
Knowing that FEMA representatives are professionals, I can take out three important concepts I learned in this class that this representative displays when delivering a press conference in the video below.
- Stayed calm when addressed by the media
- Was concise when answering the questions
- Remained clear with the statements he wanted to get across to the audience.
I think that anyone can do the training FEMA has to offer and comprehend the information, but I think an exceptional FEMA representative needs to have certain traits. In the photo below, a FEMA representative (right), patiently listens to a California resident (left) after the countless wildfires that broke out and destroyed thousands of homes in October of 2007. Not only does the FEMA representative look patient, but it’s evident to see that the FEMA representative genuinely cares about what the resident has to say by making direct eye contact, something the other representative in the video mentioned above did as well. As he is listening, he’s thinking of responses to the resident, but waiting politely until the California resident is finished with his thought process. By being patient and polite, FEMA representatives get far with the residents they end up working with. It’s difficult to out so much faith into complete strangers that they are doing everything they can to inform and protect.
Obviously, it’s difficult to learn absolutely everything there is to learn. That doesn’t just apply to FEMA training, rather in general. How exactly did FEMA learn to handle crises to the point where they feel confident to share their success with men and women who are eager to learn from such an organization. Simple: trial and error. Representatives probably had ideas on how to handle certain crises and after many trial and error, eventually discovered how to get a positive reaction from people in a negative situation.
That being said, I think it’s impossible to cover everything having to do with crisis communication. I feel confident that if I were in an actual crisis, I would know how to act and take charge in an event I would need to. Not only does FEMA teach people how to act in the event of a crisis, but it’s forming leaders. In times of crisis, people look for a confident leader to depend on. Whenever there’s a crisis, such as a natural disaster, people become panicked and frantic if there is no one to tell them what exactly is going on and what is being done to fix it.
FEMA has done a fantastic job already informing the public on how to handle crises and they can only go up from here. It’s evident that they are professionals and that they know what they are doing. If they didn’t have that reputation, they wouldn’t be one of the first organizations people turn to for leadership when a crisis occurs. While that’s a lot of pressure to withhold, the organization manages it and continues to successfully inform people and students about what to do in the event of a crisis.
Through taking this class and participating in mock press conferences, I managed to figure out what exactly I want to do once I graduate. I had played around with going into the PR field without ever really taking a class studying it. I discovered that PR contains a lot of my interests and I find myself enjoying informing the public and working within groups. Through the FEMA training, I was able to feel confident in stating that I will study PR throughout my two and a half years left here at Mizzou.