Avoiding the second tragedy managing the media during a crisis
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Avoiding the Second Tragedy: Managing the Media During a Crisis. Wade Mathews, PIO April 5, 2006. Media Experiences. By show of hands, how many of you have been interviewed by the media, with portions being aired or printed?

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Avoiding the second tragedy managing the media during a crisis

Avoiding the Second Tragedy: Managing the Media During a Crisis

Wade Mathews, PIO

April 5, 2006

Media experiences

Media Experiences

  • By show of hands, how many of you have been interviewed by the media, with portions being aired or printed?

  • By show of hands, how many of you that just raised your hands, thought it was a positive experience?

  • Would someone like to share an experience?

Media s reputation

Media’s Reputation

  • How do you perceive the media, good or bad?

  • Does that affect your willingness to work with them?

Media technology

Media Technology

  • The business of gathering news is evolving

  • Technology is allowing reporters to:

    • Gather information quickly

    • Edit their story in the field

    • Send the completed story to their station for broadcast

    • Broadcast live, breaking news instantaneously

Other media technology

Other Media Technology

  • Satellite/microwave links

  • Laptop computers

  • Amateur video

  • Satellite phone cameras

  • Web casting

Herding cats

Herding Cats

  • Getting the media to cooperate with you can be like herding cats

  • But it can be done

The media is a tool

The Media is a Tool

  • As public officials and representatives of government agencies, you have a duty to communicate with the public

  • There are many ways to do this, but none as quick and far reaching as the media

  • Learn to use the media to your benefit

Hurricane katrina lessons

Hurricane Katrina Lessons

  • Public had negative perception of government response

  • Michael Brown testimony

  • Poor communication gave the impression that they weren’t doing their job

Hurricane katrina lessons1

Hurricane Katrina Lessons

Crisis communication plan

Crisis Communication Plan

  • Have a written document outlining what should happen

  • Designate who is allowed to speak for your agency

  • Include provisions for regular news briefings

  • Provide for a physical location to facilitate communications with the media and the public

Avoiding the second tragedy managing the media during a crisis

Public Information Defined

  • Public information is used by people to make decisions and take actions to:

    • Save lives

    • Reduce injury and harm

    • Protect property

Emergency public information

Emergency Public Information

  • What does the public need or want to know during an emergency?

    • Protective actions

    • Scope of emergency

    • Response activities

    • Community status

How much information

How much information?

  • The more information the better

  • If they don’t get it from you, they’ll get it somewhere else

  • You should minimize barriers to information release

  • Bear analogy

  • Bottom Line: Information should be timely, coordinated, accurate

German coast guard

German Coast Guard

What to say

What To Say

  • Know what you want to say

  • Know what you don’t want to say

  • Three key messages

  • Bridging

  • Express empathy

  • It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.”

  • Never lie.

A bad example of a good idea

A Bad Example of a Good Idea

The pio


  • Must be trusted to do the job

  • Must have access to information

  • Acts as a gatekeeper between you and the media, allowing you to do your job

  • Doesn’t dictate what media will do

  • Should be trained (Basic PIO Course, Advanced PIO Course)

  • Coordinates with other PIOs

  • Fits in a strategic location in ICS

Jis what is it

JIS: What is it?

  • Joint Information System (JIS):

The JIS is simply a network of PIOs from multiple agencies sharing and coordinating public information, whether formally or informally, to ensure delivery of accurate and timely information the public needs and wants.

How is jis done

How is JIS done?

  • Two PIOs talking in person (IPT mtgs.)

  • A PIO at the EOC talking to a PIO on scene via cell phone

  • Dozens of PIOs responding to a disaster

A jis example

A JIS Example

  • Reporter plans story on sensitive issue

  • DPS PIO contacted DES PIO, contacted DCD PAO and TCEM PIO

  • Proactive PIOs jointly contacted reporter

  • Reporter chooses responsibility over sensationalism

Benefits of working in a joint information system

Benefits of Working in a Joint Information System

  • Sharing information to ensure that what is released is accurate

  • Keeps messages consistent

  • Avoids releasing conflicting information

  • Sharing resources

  • Two heads (or more) are better than one

  • Having multiple trained PIOs is helpful

Federal suggestion

Federal Suggestion

National Incident Management System (NIMS) says, “One way to ensure the coordination of public information is by establishing a Joint Information Center (JIC).”

Ics nims org chart

ICS/NIMS Org Chart

Ics nims org chart1

ICS/NIMS Org Chart

Jic what is it

JIC: What is it?

  • Joint Information Center (JIC):

    A physical location where PIOs from multiple agencies participate in JIS.

Benefits of the jic

Benefits of the JIC

  • A central working facility where PIOs can gather

  • Tools to enhance the flow of public information

  • Avoid being overwhelmed by media

  • Provides for extended operations

  • Can provide “one-stop shopping” for the media

The jic org chart

The JIC Org Chart

Jic uses in recent utah history

JIC Uses in Recent Utah History

  • Hurricane Katrina Evacuees, Camp Williams

  • South Salt Lake hazmat spill in rail yard, UDOT Traffic Ops Ctr.

  • Elizabeth Smart kidnapping, SLPD

  • DCD Intruder Incident

  • 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Capital Bldg.

What does this mean to you

What does this mean to you?

  • Get a JIC, a real, physical location complete with equipment

  • JIC can be one or two rooms

  • Recruit & train volunteers to staff JIC

  • Mobile JIC (take your show on the road)

  • Virtual JIC (sign up trained PIOs to assist you in an emergency)

State pio association

State PIO Association

  • Networking opportunities for your PIO

  • Build relationships with other PIOs

  • Training opportunities

  • Get experience helping other PIOs

  • Contact:

    • Rita Adams

    • Salt Lake City Police Dept.

    • 801-799-3440

    • [email protected]

State jic

State JIC

  • State PIO Association commissioned committee to establish a state JIC

  • Available to anyone who needs to use it

  • Located at Salt Lake County EOC

  • Activated through State PIO Association

    • Derek Jensen 801-538-3738

    • Dwayne Baird 801-538-4410

Promote your organization

Promote Your Organization

  • No matter how good your agency is at responding to a disaster or emergency, if you don’t convey that through the media the public won’t know that, won’t recognize that, and won’t accept that.

  • It is important that the public hear from or see the elected official during a disaster.

  • It promotes calm and demonstrates command and control.



In a disaster,

you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to your lowest level of preparedness.




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