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Role of the CAP Information Officer Developed as part of the National Emergency Services Curriculum Project General Information officers normally have vast knowledge and experience in CAP and ICS training before serving in that position

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role of the cap information officer

Role of the CAP Information Officer

Developed as part of the National Emergency Services Curriculum Project

  • Information officers normally have vast knowledge and experience in CAP and ICS training before serving in that position
    • ICS training through the 400 level before operating on missions is required
    • Though not required, information officers should preferably have experience as operators in other mission positions prior to being assigned so that they can speak knowledgeably about our operations
task specific training
Task Specific Training
  • Keep a log
  • Prepare initial and follow-up news releases
  • Coordinate news media visits
  • Basic Communications User Training
  • Basic Communications Procedures for Emergency Services Operations
keep a log
Keep a Log
  • Mission logs are critical to documenting the activities of all mission personnel
  • Use the ICS Form 214 or something similar
    • Document the personnel assignments for the unit/section/office
    • Document major activities and happenings within your unit/section/office
    • Be sure to turn in your logs when demobilizing
three basic principles of working with the media
Three basic principles of working with the media
  • Start with the right mindset – think of the media as an ally not an adversary
  • Treat all news media equally and honestly
    • Release the same information at the same time to everyone – provide equal access
    • The only exception to this is when a reporter calls on their own initiative for a story
  • Remember that reporters are extremely pressed for time – if you approach them in an intelligent, concise manner they will most likely respond positively
targeting your audience
Targeting Your Audience
  • Messages must be focused to be effective
  • Our country is made up of many cultures of varying ages and interests
  • Speak to them differently – in a language they will understand
  • Selecting target audiences doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might sound
selecting a target audience
Selecting a Target Audience
  • Analyze the community and determine the problems that need to be addressed
  • Determine the groups that can help alleviate the problems – they are your target audience
  • Find out what newspapers your target audiences read, what radio stations they listen to, and what television station they watch – those are the media outlets you need to work with
  • Determine the appropriate time and method to deliver your messages – and deliver them
understanding the media
Understanding the Media
  • To deliver your message appropriately you need to know the requirements varying media organizations have
    • Wire Services
    • Print Media
    • Television Media
    • Radio Services
    • On-Line News Service
wire services
Wire Services
  • Associate Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) supply info to virtually all broadcast and news media operations in the US if not the world
  • Deadlines are continuous – make sure your information is up to date
  • AP and UPI have offices in mot major cities – find out which ones service your area
  • They have few field reporters – messages are often posted or coordinated with a news editor and they often prefer fax, e-mail, or phone interviews
wire services continued
Wire Services Continued
  • If you have a major event planned in advance like an exercise get it listed on the “Daybook” a calendar of major events normally kept by news agencies
  • Don’t forget to target local city news services in the local areas – stories of local interest have a better chance of being run because the subscribers may be interested
print media
Print Media
  • Need highly detailed information and prefer several verifiable sources
  • Local stories that relate to national news are more likely to be run – especially those of human interest
  • City editors normally decide what stories reporters and photographers will cover, but the Features editor might be more willing to cover ongoing or sustained missions
print media continued
Print Media Continued
  • Deadlines vary
    • Morning newspapers are normally due in late afternoon or early evening
    • Afternoon newspaper are normally due in early morning – on the same day
    • Weekly papers have one designated deadline per week
    • Magazines often have deadlines six to eight months prior to publication, but will often make room (within reason) if your story is related to current world events
television media
Television Media
  • Reporters want to be where the action is
  • Television news needs two key elements
    • Strong Visuals
      • Demonstrations are good attractions
      • Make sure the staff is in appropriate uniforms
    • Sound bites
      • Equivalent to quotes
      • Try to keep them to 30 seconds or less
television media continued
Television Media Continued
  • Reporters usually have several stories in one day with a mid-afternoon deadline to make the evening news
  • Sometimes you will deal with a team of reporter and photographer – other times a one man band of sorts that requires follow-up or assistance – be patient and try to meet their needs as best you can
television media continued15
Television Media Continued
  • The FCC requires Television stations to produce local public affairs programs once a week – a great opportunity to pitch local messages of interest like ours
  • If you want a copy of your story you’re better off taping it yourself – most stations charge a fee for duplication services
radio services
Radio Services
  • The often forgotten medium – but still effective
  • Often immediate delivery – news every hour, with breaking news as it develops
  • Need current concise information with short sound bites – the small or single-person staff will appreciate it
  • Radio stations often produce one or more weekly public affairs programs like television stations as required by the FCC – don’t forget to get them your stories
online news services
Online News Services
  • Often traditional services offer additional news stories online in addition to their regular publications or broadcasts
  • May need varied length articles
  • Often want pictures, video or interviews in addition to text articles
  • Deadlines can be as often as every half hour
how do i find the media outlets in my area
How do I find the media outlets in my area?
  • Yellow pages listings
  • Media Directories
    • Bacon’s Publicity Checker
    • Ayer’s Directory of Publications
    • Editor’s and Publisher’s Yearbook
    • Broadcasting Yearbook
    • All In One Directory
  • Once your list is complete – keep it up to date
prepare and coordinate press releases
Prepare and coordinate press releases
  • Coordinate your release with the IC
  • Prepare an accurate and effective news release
    • Provide releasable information about what CAP and other agencies have done, are currently doing, and what is planned for the future
    • Try to answer common media questions
    • Tell them about CAP
    • Answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the incident
    • Follow the recommended format
recommended format for press releases
Recommended Format for Press Releases
  • Print it on 8 ½” x 11” paper with 1” margins
  • The name and address of the appropriate offices should be printed at the top of the page
  • Type and double space the release
  • Put the name and phone number of the best person to contact for more information in the upper right hand corner
recommended format for press releases continued
Recommended Format for Press Releases Continued
  • On the top left side of the first page, type “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”
  • Develop a headline that captures the gist of the release
    • Keep it as short as possible
    • Incorporate powerful words
  • Start your release with a dateline, the city from which the story originates, followed immediately by the first paragraph
recommended format for press releases continued22
Recommended Format for Press Releases Continued
  • Include quotes from the appropriate staff member(s), and make sure that the person approves the quote before you distribute the release
  • Try to keep the release to one page.
    • If you need to go to more than one page center and type “- more -” at the bottom of the page
    • Type “###” and center it below the last line to indicate the end of the release
  • If the media wants pictures, find out what they are looking for, and try to provide it
distributing press releases
Distributing Press Releases
  • Most media outlets accept press releases via mail, fax, e-mail, or even hand-delivered – find out the preference of your chosen targets and work it
  • Generally media outlets want press releases for scheduled events approximately one week in advance to promote them
  • Releases for last minute happenings should be posted as soon as is reasonably possible
news media visits
News Media Visits
  • Determine the audience to reach and the message you want to convey – and develop a media tour/visit that achieves your goals
  • Select the closest possible location – the closer the site the more reporters you will attract
  • Have a variety of specialists available to provide information and answer questions
news media visits continued
News Media Visits Continued
  • Plan the activities so that the media sees what you want them to see
  • Try to provide more than one story angle – more stories offers more opportunities for the reporter
  • Don’t promise anything that you can’t deliver
    • Flights over search or damage affected areas
    • Interviews with family members
  • Remember - you are never truly talking “off the record”
media interviews
Media Interviews
  • How you prepare for a media interview will inevitably determine how well the interview goes – if you’re only answering questions you’re not doing enough
  • Have a few short, clear messages in mind, and refer to them often during the interview
  • Always develop your key messages, and let them guide the interview – answer the media’s questions, but follow your agenda
media interviews continued
Media Interviews Continued
  • Questions to ask when requested to do an interview:
    • When and where is the interview scheduled?
    • How long will the interview take?
    • What is the proposed content?
    • Who will be the interviewer(s)?
    • Are any other people involved as guests or subjects? Who?
    • What is the format of the program or article?
    • Any idea of the line of questioning at this time?
    • Will the interview be live, taped, edited? Audience present? Questions from them? Call-ins?
    • What should I bring with me? What about props for TV?
media interviews continued28
Media Interviews Continued
  • Anticipating questions, especially the tough ones to answer, is required
    • You should never be surprised by reasonable questions asked in a scheduled interview that you’ve had time to prepare for
    • Write down the most challenging and logical questions given all the facts and circumstances of the subject matter, develop a good answer, and be prepared to deliver it
    • Be especially prepared to answer questions about any negative or controversial aspects of your incident
media interviews continued29
Media Interviews Continued
    • Choose a person who is serious about helping you, one who will do his or her best in playing the interviewer’s role – ask the wing PA for help
    • Supply the interviewer with you list of anticipated questions. Have the interviewer mix up the list and rephrase the questions in his or her own style.
    • Instruct the interviewer to hammer at getting those questions answered. The interviewer should, however, feel free to digress and ask whatever related questions come to mind
media interviews continued30
Media Interviews Continued
  • Fully answer each of the interviewer’s questions, but try to redirect the interview back to your agenda of prioritized points
  • Set a firm time limit that closely approximates what you expect to be given on the program
  • Practice with as many interviewers as possible
  • If you can, videotape or audiotape each interview so that you can critique your answers. Pay particular attention to how you made your main points regardless of the questioning
  • If you make a mistake, start over
  • Work to shorten your answers
media interviews continued31
Media Interviews Continued
  • You’re never truly speaking off the record
    • Interviewers want you to speak candidly
    • Remember that the interview may be friendly, but but may not be your friend, and you will have a tough time judging that from a short interview
    • Never be so taken by a member of the media that you reveal any bit of information that you would not proudly announce on the network evening news
    • Remember your goal is to advance the image of CAP
media interviews continued32
Media Interviews Continued
  • After the interview
    • Thank the people involved, even if you don’t feel like thanking anyone
    • Don’t be afraid to seek out those who were particularly helpful
    • Never allow yourself to drop to a level of being unprofessional. You’ll be remembered for it, sometimes by the least likely person that could help you later.
prepare a news summary at the close of the mission
Prepare a news summary at the close of the mission
  • Coordinate the mission summary with the IC, and key wing personnel like the Wing PAO, ES Officer, DO or CC as necessary
  • Determine type of story you will release
  • Determine how you will release the summary Don’t forget to tell the press a little about CAP and its missions again