The most important part of leadership’s commitment to communications is inclusion of communications in all planning and operations. This means that a communications specialist is included in the senior management team of the emergency management organization. It means that communications issues are considered in the decision-making processes and that a communications element is included in all organizational activities, plans and operations.
In the past, communicating with external audiences, or customers, and in many cases internal customers, was not valued nor considered critical to a successful emergency management operation. Technology has changed the equation. In today’s world of 24-hour television and radio news and the Internet, the demand for information is never-ending; most notably in an emergency response situation. Emergency managers must be able to communicate critical information in a timely manner to their staff, partners, the public and the media.
To do so, the information needs of the various customers and how best to communicate with these customers must be considered at the same time that planning and operational decisions are being made. For example, a decision process on how to remove debris from a disaster area must include discussion of how to communicate information on the debris removal operation to community officials, the public and the media.