Communications has become an increasingly critical function in emergency management. The dissemination of timely and accurate information to the general public, elected and community officials, and the media plays a major role in the effective management of disaster response and recovery activities. Communicating preparedness, prevention and mitigation information promotes actions that reduce the risk of future disasters. Communicating policies, goals and priorities to staff, partners and participants enhances support and promotes a more efficient disaster management operation. In communicating with the public, establishing a partnership with the media is key to implementing a successful strategy.
The mission of an effective disaster communications strategy is to provide timely and accurate information to the public in all four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. The goals of communications in each phase is as follows:
- Mitigation – to promote implementation of strategies, technologies and actions that will reduce the loss of lives and property in future disasters.
- Preparedness – to communicate preparedness messages that encourages and educates the public in anticipation of disaster events.
- Response – to provide to the pubic notification, warning, evacuation and situation reports on an ongoing disaster.
- Recovery – to provide individuals and communities impacted by a disaster with information on how to register for and receive disaster relief.
The foundation of an effective disaster communications strategy is built on the four critical assumptions:
- Customer Focus
- Leadership Commitment
- Inclusion of Communications in Planning and Operations
- Media Partnership