Disaster Communications in a Changing Media World: Dealing With The Emerging Media

Other | October 29, 2008

byKim S Haddow, Kim's Haddow, George Haddow

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Communications is key to the success of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Accurate information disseminated to the general public, to elected officials and community leaders, and to the media reduces risk, saves lives and property, and speeds recovery. The ability to communicate is no longer an afterthought or a luxury; timely communication is now as important as logistics or the pre-deployment of materials. Planning and controlling the flow of information before, during and after a disaster will define your organization's credibility, trustworthiness, authority, and effectiveness.

The emergence of new media like the internet, e-mail, blogs, text messaging, cell phone photos, and the increasing role played by "first informers"-- witnesses who now have the ability to transmit information immediately from the event--are redefining the roles of government and media.

The government's historical role as gatekeeper is now an anachronism. Traditional media's role as the sole conduit of reliable and officially-sanctioned information has been eclipsed by the advent of new media. The tools and rules of communications are evolving and disaster communications must evolve to capitalize on these changes and exploit the opportunities they provide. Bloggers have the potential either to add to the chaos during a crisis, or to help convey accurate data and report on local conditions. Disaster communications must incorporate a way to manage their impact and if possible use them for the common good.

Finally, even though the means to the end are evolving, the goals, the values, and the underlying principles of effective disaster communication-- the need for transparency, increased accessibility, trustworthiness and reliability, and to create partnerships with the media--have not changed and need to be embraced along with the practical ability to convey information effectively.


* Applies the principles of emergency management to communications during a disaster
* Covers terrorist incidents, accidents, and natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes
* Shows how to use blogs, text messages, and cell phone cameras as well as government channels and traditional media to communicate during a crisis

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From the Publisher

Communications is key to the success of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Accurate information disseminated to the general public, to elected officials and community leaders, and to the media reduces risk, saves lives and property, and speeds recovery. The ability to communicate is no longer an afterthought or a...

George Haddow currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Homeland Security Studies program at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. Prior to jpining academia, Mr. Haddow worked for eight years in the Office of the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the White House Liaison and the deputy Chief of Staff. H...

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Format:OtherDimensions:240 pages, 1 × 1 × 1 inPublished:October 29, 2008Publisher:Butterworth (trade)Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0080877842

ISBN - 13:9780080877846

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Chapter One - Communications: The Critical Function
Essential to success - best case examples where effective communications clearly contributed to the success of the operation - Northridge for response, Napa for mitigation; worst case examples where inadequate and inept communications planning and implementation costs lives, damaged response, or delayed recovery - Hurricane Katrina, the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Chapter Two - Disaster communications in a changing media world
Definition of new media, examples of use in disasters - Katrina, July 7 London bombing,
Examples of changing role of traditional media and government --9/11

Chapter Three - The Principles of a successful communications strategy
Basic assumptions and examples of each:
* Transparency
* Accuracy
* Accessibility
* Customer focus
* Leadership commitment
* Communications core to planning
* Partnership role with media
* Need to create emotional connection with audience, be trusted - Rudy Giuliani on September 11, Chief Moose in the DC sniper incident

Chapter Four - Application of principles to all four phases of disaster
* Mitigation
* Preparedness
* Response
* Recovery
* The challenges of communicating risk

Chapter Five - Identification of audiences
* Public
* Elected officials and community leaders
* Partners - public health, first responders, volunteers
* Media

Chapter Six - Creating infrastructure
* Staffing
* Tools and technologies

Chapter Seven - Working with the media
* How a newsroom works, staffing, deadlines,
* Ho