Partnerships the path to improving crisis communication
Fitzpatrick, Helen M.
Knoff, Jeffrey W.
Thomas, Gail F.
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The global availability of 24-hour broadcast news establishes the media as a critical link to communicating with the public in times of crisis. As a result, the broadcast news media play a significant role in shaping how the public reacts in a crisis. Since fire and police departments will likely be the media's primary source for information in the initial stages of a disaster, preventing the loss of lives depends on how quickly information is delivered to the public. However, positive working relationships between public safety and the media are often hampered by differences in police and fire culture, distrust and the lack of a clear understanding of each other's roles and responsibilities. The safety messages delivered by public safety officials and the media in an emergency have the power to influence the way the public behaves and the protective actions they take. This report examines how forming nontraditional partnerships between public safety agencies and the media can be used effectively to give direction to the public before, during and after a crisis. This report proposes a set of recommendations to help public safety agencies avoid costly communication mistakes through best practices and lessons learned from recent high profile incidents.
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