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Quickly Noted: A New Friend

November 11, 2009

Lately, my feed reader has been buzzing with the stylings of a new-to-me blogger. Hailing from Oakville, Ontario, Canada, Patrice Cloutier’s blog, Crisis Comms Command Post, has been doing some really interesting work on crisis communications blogging.

His latest, Is it time to review how PIOs work and JIC structure?, looks at an idea about JICs that I’ve been toying with a lot lately. Specifically, what is the main function of JIC? Is it to coordinate media messaging? Or to massage and enhance the “common knowledge” of an event?

Being someone who has never sat in that traditional media coordination seat, I’ve never been a huge champion of the idea that writing press releases and setting up press conferences should be the main outcome of a JIC. I was always much more interested in the ability of a roomful of PIOs and PA folks finding and taking the prevailing interpretation of a situation and melding that to one that benefits the government agency (or private company) that is charged with the response; as opposed to the latter, where a roomful of PIOs and PA folks is responding to the media’s interpretation of a situation in which they happen to be responding.

This is a bit off the beaten public health preparedness track, but I’ve been focusing so much on crisis comms work lately that it seemed a natural time to pass this blog along to you all. If you’re really looking to loop this back to the conversation at hand, in a pandemic situation, say something like an outbreak of novel H1N1 influenza, what is the role of the PIO? Would a JIC be necessary or beneficial ? What would it do?

I’ve argued that a JIC would be a great idea for such a situation, if only to seek out an respond directly to rumors and half-truths that would dissuade people from taking adequate precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Is that what your PIO is doing? Should they be?

In any case, check out Patrice’s work here.

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