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Posts Tagged ‘FEMA’

Blog 4: Social Media and Crisis Communication

October 31, 2011 1 comment

Believe it or not, social media can play a big role in things other than connecting to your old high school friends.  Social media sites such as facebook, twitter, and even blogs like this can have a profound impact on things such as crisis communication.  For instance, when disaster strikes, often times the electricity in the area goes out.  This prevents people from being able to watch the television, listen to the radio, or using landlines.  With technology today, people have smart phones, and other devices that allow them to get on the internet from almost anywhere.  One of the largest and most popular websites is facebook.  People use facebook to talk to their friends, and things such as that.  However companies also use facebook to advertise and get certain messages to a specific audience.  This can be done the same way with crisis communication.  In fact, FEMA has it’s own facebook page, from where it can make statuses.

Twitter is also another fantastic social media website that can be used for all sorts of different things.  However using it for crisis communication has added benefits.  Due to Twitter being so immediate and rapid communication, organizations such as FEMA can get there messages out quickly even during a rapidly changing incident.  When disaster strikes and people are not able to get messages from the radio, or the television, they can always get on the mobile devices and get a message from Twitter about where there is shelter or food or something of that nature.

Using social media is a fantastic way to communicate especially during a crisis.  More organizations need to utilize it and make sure that they are technologically up to date with the rest of the world.  That way people can maximize safety and minimize risks and problems during a crisis.

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Blog 4: Facebook and Twitter for disaster communication

October 31, 2011 1 comment

Facebook and Twitter seem to be the quickest way organizations like FEMA can send and receive news during disasters.  More and more people seem to have smartphones in this day and age, and therefore have access to internet and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter 24/7.  There are even Facebook and Twitter applications on these smartphones that allow users to press a button on their phone screen that quickly directs them to Facebook or Twitter.  There is never a dull moment or a day that someone with a smartphone goes without hearing the last updates, especially if that person is subscribed to a certain organization.

The best way to get people to receive urgent information quickly is to let them know where the best place is to find that information.  Whether they need to “like” a certain Facebook page or “follow” a certain organization on Twitter, that information needs to be communicated to the public before a disaster strikes, so that when it does strike, they know where they need to turn to for the most updated information.  As Rebecca Ford of The Hollywood Reporter says,

Cell phone networks can crash during an emergency, while social media is considered a more reliable form of communication.

She goes on to say that Twitter users learned of tremors seconds before feeling them on the East Coast.  To learn more about this topic go to http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/hurricane-irene-fema-urges-people-227765.

FEMA’s Facebook Page has important information that one might need to know when preparing for a disaster or if someone were to be a victim of a disaster.  FEMA also has daily tweets that one could view to get updated information about disasters.  Below is an image of what the official FEMA Twitter page looks like.

FEMA

FEMA

@fema Washington, DC
This channel provides FEMA mission-related information. For emergencies, call your local fire/EMS/police or 9-1-1.
For more information on FEMA, you can “like” Federal Emergency Management Agency on Facebook or “follow” FEMA on Twitter.

Blog #4: Use of Social Media during Disaster Response

October 31, 2011 1 comment

Ask anyone what the fastest way to get information out to the public today would be. The responses would vary from radio to television to Internet. All of these are great means of communication, however one of the key components of this last option sets it apart from the others… and that component is social media. Even more specific is the public’s increasing use and dependability on the social media outlets of Facebook and Twitter.

Below is a screen shot taken directly from Facebook’s statistics page where the organization goes into detail about it’s users and global reach.

And as for Twitter, the details are revealed in this article by the Huffington Post. Assuming you were doubting their reach before…think again. In fact these two forms of social media have already proven effective in disaster response before. From the destruction of the Joplin tornado to the Japan earthquake Twitter and Facebook have already served as heroes to these communities.

As for the future of these social media communication methods and their role in disaster response, organizations such as the Red Cross and FEMA could encourage the public to create a Twitter or Facebook and to follow their pages. Through following these accounts the public would not only be able to stay in the loop for their own safety reasons but additionally to follow relief efforts, ways to donate, and to establish a sense of community for victims and the survivors. Social media has proven to serve as a lifeline to many in the past and will continue to be an important means in the future.

 

Blog 4: The Use of Facebook and Twitter During a Crisis

October 31, 2011 5 comments

As we enter into the second decade of the new millennium there has been a shift from where we as a society get our news. No longer are people depending on broadcast news or newspapers; they are now in the age where expediency is key. We want our news, and we want it now. This is where Twitter and Facebook come in. Never before were we able to get status updates of what is to come in 140 characters or less right when the action happened. This is crucial for disaster updates, now crisis communicators along with the mass media can give stakeholders up-to-the-minute information that they need in order to stay safe and informed. According to Wired , a technology magazine, there are about 19 million people on Twitter alone. This means that crisis communicators are able to reach large audiences if they need to get their message out to a vast crowd.

A great example of Twitter and Facebook being a valuable asset during a crisis was during the Japan Earthquake earlier this year. The Telegraph, a British newspaper, explains that during the crisis the social networking sites are not only valuable for communicating about disasters from the mass media, but it also allows family members and friends to keep in touch with one another. This is essential because if there are hundreds of thousands of people trying to dial out lines can be jammed, taking forever just to say you are okay. Now with the prevalence of smart phones people can now use things like apps for Twitter or Facebook to post their whereabouts and status. One girl during the earthquake in Japan was facebook chatting her cousin as it was occuring. Telegraph states,

She was Facebook chatting from under her desk at Yokohama International School, while the quake was going on. It was absolutely amazing. She couldn’t contact her parents a few miles away – the phones were down and the trains had stopped running – but we knew she was OK on the other side of the world. Facebook and Twitter are automatically the first place you now go to to find out what is going on.

Another important feature of Twitter and Facebook is its ability to post news. During the Japan earthquake there was a plethera of tweets and videos showing the earthquake well before the news media was able to broadcast or write about it. The reason being that it takes more time to go find the news write it up and give it to the public, this is especially true with broadcasting. Broadcast news require getting the camera crew out to the scene, writing the story and sometimes editing it before it can go out to the public. With Twitter and Facebook people can know what is going on at a drop of a hat. During the Japan Earthquake this was especially true, Telegraph states,

Within an hour, more than 1,200 tweets a minute were coming from Tokyo. By the end of Friday, American time, a total of 246,075 Twitter posts using the term “earthquake” had been posted

Not only is it families and the mass media that is using these social media sites, but also government agencies as well like FEMA. FEMA’s work through social networking can communicate to the media, stakeholders and public in an efficient way. Not only can Facebook and Twitter do this but as FEMA stated social media also gives a face to the organization.

There are many benefits to social media during a crisis. Whether its informing the public & stakeholders, allowing family members and love ones stay in contact with one another, or putting a face to a crisis organization prior to a disaster, all of these benefits makes it seem that social networking during a disaster is here to stay. As more people in the technology generation are starting to grow up social networks like Facebook and Twitter will only become more influential during a crisis.

Blog 4: Facebook and Twitter during Disaster Response

October 31, 2011 1 comment

Facebook and Twitter are reinventing the way we receive news and information. For example, today when I was on Facebook I saw that Tony Larussa had retired. When I went to check it out on ESPN’s website they did not even have anything about his retirement up yet. That just shows how quickly news can spread on social networks compared to traditional news sources. Social networking sites are here to stay and it only makes sense that more traditional ways of spreading information catch up with the times.

In a disaster it is important to disperse accurate information quickly and effectively. Social Networking sites are perfect for this. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow organizations such as FEMA reach an audience that may not use more traditional forms of media and inform them on what to do in a disaster. Social Networking sites also allow organizations to continually update people on the situation in a more timely manner compared to more traditional news sources. One of the drawbacks of using social networking sites may be that misinformation may be spread amongst users. In the end I believe that all organizations will use Facebook or Twitter to reach their target audience and these tools can be used effectively by disaster organizations to disperse information in a timely manner.

 

 

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Blog #3: Public Information System Training and Crisis Communication

October 19, 2011 1 comment

After recently completing FEMA’s NIMS Public Information Systems training, I found it was very much in relation to how I have come to understand crisis and disaster communication through classroom learning.  FEMA describes the Public Information mission for a crisis as,

get[ting] accurate, understandable information to the public in a timely manner so people can take action to save lives and minimize damage to property.

And that is a lot of what we are learning as a class in Crisis Communication.  As a class, it is basically our mission to learn exactly how this mission is carried out, because one day it could be our job to do so.

I think the training was rather beneficial, because it covered more in-depth a few concepts we later went over during class:

  • The Joint Information System (JIS) which basically makes sure that information regarding the crisis is accurate, organized, and easily accessible.
  • The Joint Information Center (JIC) which is the main location of the JIS.
  • The Public Information Officer (PIO) which is like a public relations advisor of sorts to the Incident Commander during a crisis.

Good communication is key.

It is also important that all areas of the Public Informations System can communicate clearly with each other, or be permeable, a concept which we learned in class.

Some additional information I learned during the FEMA training was that there are certain public information skills that are beneficial to have during the pre-crisis phase:

  • Photography
  • Language translation
  • Internet/web design

I never would have really though of these being beneficial to crisis communication until the Public Information Systems training.

I think it is rather safe to say that Public Information Systems training fits right in with what we are learning in Crisis Communication.  The information compliments each other in ways that are beneficial to student learning, and the training reinforced many ideas we had already covered in class.

Classy stock photo of college students having fun learning. Probably about crisis communication.

Blog #3: FEMA & Crisis Communication

October 19, 2011 1 comment

The FEMA public information systems training  is a type of training that ties in perfectly with the University of Missouri’s Crisis Communication course. Thus far into the semester we have learned many common practices that FEMA’s training focuses on. Examples of these include the importance of establishing a common message, staying consistent , and communicating to the public messages of importance. FEMA’s training covers the information we have covered but at points takes us even deeper in understanding how to reach these goals.

One of the main means to reach these goals is through what FEMA calls a Joint Information System aka a JIS. As depicted below there are multiple individuals or organizations dealing with the same crisis or situation. While they may not be in the same location it is important that they are all communicating and remaining on the same page. Some carry on the role of a PIO, operating the JIC, or a spokesperson (all of which are also described in the graphic below). Through the constant communication with each other, the media, and the public they are able to send out a message that is consistent and factual. To confirm truth behind the message, PIOs are constantly following the media’s outputs to make sure what is being said is valid. Just as in Crisis Communication, a truthful and dependable message is the goal of those working in the midst of a crisis.

As previously mentioned, the JIS must send out a message to the public that is consistent and factual. Another component of the message is making sure what is said will not unnecessarily alarm the public. These goals are reached through similar goals we have learned about in Crisis Communication. In FEMA’s words, they are reached through gathering, verifying, coordinating, and disseminating information. To gather a deeper understanding as to what occurs in each of these phases refer to the graphic below.

Lastly, FEMA also recapped the importance of planning ahead. In class we have learned that it is extremely important to prepare for a crisis because while crises may not be expected they are inevitable. With all of this information from FEMA public information systems in addition to what we have learned in class, it is easy to understand the importance of communication in a crisis or situation. But more importantly it is easy to understand the importance of how to communicate in a crisis or situation.