Let Your Community Teach You Their Needs
August 4, 2015
Emergency communication is just as important before a disaster hits as it is during and after. Reaching the public with the correct message in the correct way – or in many correct ways – is key to ensuring they know what to do when faced with an emergency. During a crisis, the public will often communicate their needs for future communication and education by showing gaps in their response.
Taking a look over your agency’s response to an emergency or disaster is wise, but do you also take a good look at how the public responded? Their actions or inactions will tell you a lot about where to focus your energy, time, and money in the future. It will also tell which group is listening or following a specific type of media and where gaps in messaging might be found.
Another concern is the focus of your pre-disaster messaging. As Emergency Man¬agement Magazine recently stated, “if the goal of our risk communication is aware¬ness, we’ve already lost the disaster resilience battle.” The vast majority of your community is aware of their risks, so focusing on risk is unneeded. Transforming their awareness into action is the ultimate goal. To do that involves making the risk personal and asking for small steps towards reducing their risk, which will lead to more confidence and larger steps towards the goal.
A community’s needs in a disaster vary widely and many locales have minimal resources to spend trying to find where they can improve. By watching and listening, you can identify and address communications gaps, overlooked populations, and education needs.