The Most Important Position in a Joint Information Center

Conventional response doctrine says that when staffing the Joint Information Center, the most qualified or experienced communicator in a unified response organization should fill the role of Public Information Officer – the 2nd most qualified fills the JIC Manager (or Assistant PIO) role and so on, so forth. But in our experience, the JIC Manager […]

PIO Tips for “Staying Frosty” During Disaster Response

I’ve written on this subject in the past but with Hurricane Matthew being nigh and many of my former public information officer colleagues setting up in its path (or waiting for the call to do so,) I thought I’d re-rack a version of a post I wrote two years ago about some of the intangible lessons I […]

Recovering from Disaster: 5 Communication Strategies

Brandon and I spent decades preparing for and responding to all manner of critical incidents and disasters as federal public information officers. When we weren’t preparing or responding, we were teaching others to prepare and respond. When we weren’t preparing or responding or teaching others to prepare and respond, we were getting phone calls, emails […]

Recognizing a Crisis Before it Becomes a Crisis

It’s a well known (and accurate) adage among crisis managers that success in responding to crisis is 90 percent in the planning and preparation. I don’t know if I agree 100 percent with the 90 percent mark but it’s pretty close. What isn’t as commonly understood is that a considerable portion of that last 10 […]

A Process for Key Messaging During Disaster

I’ve written about the oft under-emphasized practice of assessing the characteristics of an effective message that stands out and increases the likelihood that what’s being said is also being heard. It’s a subject Brandon and I will cover with attendees of a workshop we’re hosting in April. For the rest of you communication ninjas, I […]

The Empathy Message: Say it Like You Mean it

With all the practices and pitfalls of communicating during crisis, few things are more fundamentally important to effective communication than expressing sincere empathy to those affected. Yet somehow genuine expressions of empathy during crisis and critical incidents are rare. Don’t get me wrong, I see and hear no shortage of canned, cliché, box-checking statements but […]