Engage the media Coast Guard's public affairs posture during the response to Hurricane Katrina
Austin, Meredith L.
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During a crisis, one of the most important actions a government (specifically the federal executive branch) should take is to inform the public about the actions being taken to resolve the crisis, or steps the public should take to protect themselves as soon as possible. If the public does not believe the government understands what is occurring, they will not have confidence in the plans being made. Hurricane Katrina was a case in which the federal government failed to inform the public what positive steps it was taking to respond to the incident. As a result, the public perceived that there were no positive steps being taken at all, reducing the trust in the federal government. A notable exception was the Coast Guard, which received much praise in the media and by the public. This paper examines Coast Guard culture, its public affairs program and response frameworks, including the National Response Plan and the National Contingency Plan. Next, timelines of Hurricane Katrina activities show what actions were taken by different agencies, including the Coast Guard. Finally, reasons why the Coast Guard succeeded are given, along with a list of actions other agencies may take to improve their public affairs posture.
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