Public Information Officers are communication coordinators of a given institution. They are responsible for gathering information and distributing it to the people as well as the media (Franklin & Parton, 2014). In the cases of disasters, PIO have to maintain direct communication with both the media as well as the public. As a result, PIO are faced by many challenges in this line of duty.
The primary challenge faced by PIO involves working on a very tight schedule whereby they have to work on the clock in order to meet the strict deadlines. Since PIO work with journalists who have a 24-hour news demand to meet, the journalists’ tight schedule also becomes the deadline of the public information officer (Carlson & Cuillier, 2017). Consequently, the PIO suffers from emotional strain and physical fatigue as they work towards meeting the deadlines and satisfying the demand for 24-hour news coverage. In the long-run the PIO are forced to work on 24-hour basis during the time of the crisis as the need for news coverage and update is constantly unending.
The second challenge faced by PIO emerges from the tight deadline they serve that leaves them vulnerable to health issues such as fatigue, headaches, low morale, difficulties sleeping and concentration, short temper, as well as job dissatisfaction. When faced with short deadlines, PIO have to work extra hard to meet the deadline that results in a lot of straining leading to the identified health problems. While these symptoms might manifest in the short-term course of the disaster, prolonged exposure to work pressures can result in long-term persistence of these health issues. Further, PIO can also suffer from mental illnesses such as PTSD due to the secondary traumatization associated with accessing traumatic crisis scenes, or interviewing of the various disaster victims (Franklin & Parton, 2014). Due to the personal nature of interviewing the victims, the PIO eventually absorb the feelings of anxiety, trauma, or guilt suffered by the victims that can lead to PTSD associated with the secondary traumatic stress experienced by the PIO. This can result to recurring dreams of the horrifying scenes witnessed that further deteriorates the health of the PIO.
Ultimately, PIO are faced by the challenge of technology and communication barriers. In many cases, crisis scenes are characterized by difficulties in communication associated with communication disruptions due to cases such as cutting of communication channels and lines. In these cases, the PIO have to struggle to convey the message to the people and the media. Since the nature of the PIO’s job requires obtaining of firsthand information, the information might be unavailable in some cases as a result of various disruptions associated with the disaster (Southern Nevada Health District, 2007). For instance, during an earthquake, most modes of communication are disrupted that becomes a challenge to the PIO due to the inability to maintain a free flow of information. Further, some of the information in crisis scenes is very sensitive such as information associated with body counts and the nature of the victims. In these cases, the PIO might experience difficulties relaying such information to the public.
Under the Ready.gov campaign, I chose to examine Hurricanes in the “Plan Ahead of Disasters” The presentation of information on this topic was very appealing and hurricanes caught my attention due to the catastrophic impacts they have had on the United States and other parts of the world over the decades. The use of cool colors also caught my attention drawing me to focus more on how to plan ahead of hurricane related disasters. The information given on how to “Prepare Now” for hurricanes was the one I liked most. The site can be improved by including more visuals per each disaster that will make it more appealing.
Franklin, B., & Parton, N. (2014). Social Work, the Media and Public Relations (Routledge Revivals). Routledge.
Carlson, C. S., & Cuillier, D. (2017). Public information officers exert increasing controls. Newspaper Research Journal, 38(2), 198-214.
Southern Nevada Health District (2007). Public Information Officer. Retrieved August 9, 2007, from
Address this as a reply:
In regards to the Hurricane presentation, what 'principles' that you have studied appear evident?
You did a great service to the PIO position as you remark on their coordination function. Furthermore, the acknowledgment of their stress trying to accomodate a news cycle. Personally, I think it behooves a PIO to 'get ahead of" the story with rapid release 'short-factual' bytes to the news media and to the public. Have you found any discussion of this principle in your readings or investigations? What are your thoughts?
What are the difficulties encountered in communication from the Public information officers point of view? Put yourself into the PIO role and discuss what you find to be the top 3 issues.
Analyze the Ready.gov or another public program you have access to according to communication principles. What is your 'emotive' response to the program? Would this have impacted you personally to effect a change? What was missing?
The first issue would be the difficulty of building trust among the receiving population. In this day and age, the typical media consumer has been manipulated long enough that they have lost their trust in everything that the officials present to the public. Former misconduct by government officials, the advertisement industry that created an environment of (business before any truth), and the brutal competition between news sources, all of that has contributed to the fact that the average person when receiving a message through an announcement made to the public doubts every little detail that they hear, questions the validity of the announcer claim, and hesitate to build trust with whomever is presenting the authority (CHEMM, 2017).
Second, the rapidly changing situation and the flow of information about the incident makes it hard for the PIO to be articulate, which is a crucial skill to have by any PIO. To reach the required level of articulation, the PIO must take into consideration several factors: although message formulation can be challenging, it is even more challenging to constantly change the details of the message when a new influx of information is flowing into the organization channels. Moreover, the ever-existent battle between touching the listeners' feelings and assuring them, and the need to tell the truth which most of the time is not what everyone will be happy to hear, considering that the announcement is about a disaster response. All in all, being able to communicate to the public using the proper information, using the proper words, in the right timing is an obstacle that if overcome by the PIO he/she would have a much better connection to the public to deliver messages in the present and the future (CHEMM, 2017).
Third, choosing the appropriate media to deliver the message is crucial and needs to be addressed and investigated by the PIO prior to making an announcement. The PIO needs to examine the trends in his/her community when it comes to consuming news. For examples, for many countries, social media is way more effective in delivering messages to the public than traditional TV or radio. Also, determining who will be the recipient of the message can help on deciding which media to use (CHEMM, 2017).
The CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response is a great example of a comprehensive source of information about public health awareness and procedures to take in times of emergencies. The use of visual and written messages blends the necessary information to know and follow in times of emergencies with an attractive look that will keep you engaged longer. The only missing thing here is the interactive aspect of a public campaign, it would’ve been better if the receiver could discuss and share insight with other receivers and the message source (CDC, 2018)
Center for Preparedness and Response. (2018, October 15). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/phpr/index.htm
Public Information Officers - CHEMM. (Sep 29 2017) Retrieved from https://chemm.nlm.nih.gov/pio.htm
What are the difficulties encountered in communication from the Public information officers point of view? Put yourself into the PIO role and discuss what you find to be the top 3 issues. If your top 3 are already being discussed, find another spin on the issues to discuss.
When disaster strikes, information is valuable to everyone. Everyone is looking for information, whether working with Incident command, journalists or even the general public. In the area of emergency management, the person responsible for managing this information is a public information officer. PIO is the bridge that connects the people and the command staff. This person must be familiar with all mechanisms of risk communication. To fill this position, you must have many qualities such as honesty, transparency, empathy, etc. PIO must be available or accessible on 24 \ 7. There are a lot of problems that can be encountered with the role of PIO because of its presence under the microscope as it may be a solid substance for media.
Firstly, dealing with journalism and media may be one of the biggest challenges faced by PIO, as the nature of the work of the journalists is characterized by curiosity, and the search for the narration to enumerate the general people. Which may contradict the goals of PIO either because the details they are looking for do not benefit the general public and could confuse them or because of confidentiality Information where it should be reserved. This may create a gap between the media and PIO because of conflict of interest, which reduces the confidence of the media or may cause a more significant problem is approaching the journalists to the scene for more information, which may endanger their lives.
Secondly, with the revolting development in social media, and the high number of users would cause a lot of rumors, which is one of the most to overlap the community. So, the PIO must be ready with the plan to handle these rumors. It must be familiar with all the basics of controlling rumors, methods of tracking, denial, and dissemination of correct information and make sure that it reached the largest segment of people.
Finally, Multiple modes of communication may put PIO in confusion. The most appropriate way to deliver the message as much as possible to all people who are within the limits of catastrophe, choosing a mechanism and languages especially in multicultural societies will be more challenging as accepting the message may be different. Therefore, he/she must have strong relations from all walks of life so that he can appropriately communicate his message for each spectrum.
Analyze the Ready.gov or another public campaign you have access to according to communication principles. What is your 'emotive' response to the campaign? Would this have impacted you personally to effect a change? Why so or What was missing?
I have chosen to analyze the video titled How to Prepare an Emergency Disaster Kit. I would put the link down if the video triggered your interest. Which is a tutorial video about how to assemble an emergency disaster kit, created by sikana.tv in partnership with the international federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Which adds credibility to the source by involving experts. Considering the video is intended for preparation, it does not meet all the risk communication criteria as some do not apply to this video. I think the video time is very suitable for the details discussed in this video. They have explained how long this kit will sustain for a family of four. So, we can figure out the target population which householders have family members of four.
They divide the input into several sections based on the need for them and how they are used, thus facilitating the process of tracking during listening. Since English is my second language, I can guess that the language used in the video is suitable for sixth-grade students as it was very easy for me. They use an animation which it could be a great hook to get your attention, and the speaker was speaking very clearly in the appropriate pace with using common words instead of using fancy and academic words. They left a message in the comments if there are any questions from the audience, which is very necessary for these kinds of tutorials.
I have an optional reason for this video precisely because I am familiar with the details of the subject well so I can judge the content whether it is useful or not. And I found that the video is handy. Some of you may say it is a very long video, yet we must be aware of something important that once you have caught the attention of the listener or viewer. He/she can repeat the video more than once in case they forgot any essential point, especially we talk about Period of preparation where is no threat encounter and urgency is not necessary.
Lowrey, W., Evans, W., Gower, K. K., Robinson, J. A., Ginter, P. M., McCormick, L. C., & Abdolrasulnia, M. (2007, June 06). Effective media communication of disasters: Pressing problems and recommendations. Retrieved from https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles...
Poirier, C. (2013, April 09). Considerations for the Digital Public Information Officer (PIO). Retrieved October 19, 2018, from https://www.govloop.com/community/blog/considerati...
Education, S. (n.d.). Emergency Disaster Kit - Prepare in the Event of a Natural Disaster. Retrieved fromhttps://www.sikana.tv/en/health/natural-disaster/major-disasters-emergency-disaster-kit