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Building emergency public information structures for response: Lessons learned from New York City
For an effective response, emergency public information operations should be structured to facilitate the provision of timely, accurate, accessible information to the public. A frequent challenge in building a public information structure is identifying the potential staff to allow the operation to get big enough, fast enough. A plan for managing public information operations should define roles to fulfil basic functions (responding to media enquiries, writing materials, disseminating information, media and social media monitoring, community engagement and identifying and addressing rumours). This paper will offer tips for developing a plan and concept of operations for quickly assembling and maintaining public information operations. It will also describe the public information principles implemented during recent incidents in New York City, including the 2015 visit of Pope Francis to New York City. Having a coordinated, flexible model; a trained network of public information officers who are ready to staff public information roles as needed; and a structure that embeds social media into overall public information operations, will leave public information officers and their organisations more prepared to deal with the challenges and opportunities of communicating with the public during emergencies of varying types and sizes.
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Nancy Silvestri is the Press Secretary for the New York City Emergency Management Department. Nancy joined NYC Emergency Management in 2011 as a communications specialist, overseeing the strategy and development of projects including brochures, advertising campaigns, and digital and new media content. As Press Secretary, she plans and implements the agency’s public information efforts and serves as the agency’s chief spokesperson. Nancy has worked many significant New York City events, including Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, winter storms and severe summer heatwaves, the East Harlem and East Village building collapses in 2014 and 2015, and the response to New York City’s first Ebola patient. Nancy is also an adjunct professor at St John’s University.
CitationSilvestri, Nancy (2016, December 1). Building emergency public information structures for response: Lessons learned from New York City. In the Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning, Volume 10, Issue 2.