Home > BLOG 3, Crisis Communication > Blog 3: FEMA’s Public Information System

Blog 3: FEMA’s Public Information System

After taking the FEMA training, I truly believe that their Public Information System is based off of our class. Someone in FEMA’s organization must have taken Mr. Houston’s Crisis Comm. class… Joking of course, but on a serious note, the characteristics of FEMA’s PIS is exactly what we need to know as crisis communicators. We have been learning that timely, accurate communication of a crisis to the appropriate audience, giving them information of the procedures and policies of maintaining the crisis, is the only way to handle such events. This basic idea of communication is exactly what FEMA implements when their Public Information Officers are working on crises. FEMA demands that their PIO’s information must be developed and coordinated across all jurisdictions so that there is fluidity of information, which describes PIO’s main tool in producing public infomation: the Joint Information System. The JIS includes the  policies, procedures, systems that will help produce correct, accurate information for the public. We have been taught all semester that there must be a system of communicating when working in groups. We have been taught that direct information and instructions that is consistent throughout the group is the most positive way to give information to the public.

Since we know that the most accurate information is the information that is given consistently all the way around, we must note that one center of information is also helpful. Another main contributor to the JIS that is established by the Public Information Officers is the Joint Information Center. The  JIC is the central location of all public information personnel where major public information functions are created and distributed. Similar to our lessons, there is one central “location” that all of the information about our crisis class comes from (class slides, class participation, etc.), so it is easy to attribute the idea of JIC into our curriculum and into our topic. When we were working on our press conferences, there was one central “face” of the public information, and that was our groups and our presentations. We were basically the PIO’s presenting our procedures, policies and instructions from the JIS we implemented. Overall, FEMA Public Information System fits perfectly with out class and how we should understand crisis communication, or just communication in general.

Personally, I am not sure if I could put myself into the position of PIO trying to communicate crises instructions to the public and feel confident that i was delivering helpful information. On the other hand, thought, I do feel that I would know how to handle and crisis and know how to communicate if I was physically in a crisis. I think that FEMA has taught us to be aware of the information and the events that take place in crises and how to acknowledge the messages and act accordingly. I am sure towards the end of the course, I will feel more confident in my abilities to deliver those hard messages. Overall though, I think that relating FEMA to our course has helped tremendously, and if it wasn’t for the FEMA training’s that we have to complete really help to put you in the mindset of what someone like PIO has to do in order to maintain the situation and keep the public safe.

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  1. October 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I’m with you on the first part. It would be nice to be getting royalties from the FEMA training program. Their budget is through the roof.

    Good post overall. You are right that being the PIO would be tough. Even for someone who is trained and likes this type of work, it is extremely challenging and stressful to be the information point person in an event like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina. At the same time, it is also something that you learn to do through practicing like we have.

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