Lesson 4


Crisis Communication Guidelines


This lesson is based on IMPROVER Deliverable 4.1 (Petersen et al, 2016) and Deliverable 4.2 (Serafinelli et al, 2017). It is aimed primarily at the communication teams within critical infrastructure operators (CIOs). Participants will learn about main areas of change in communication dynamics and information flows during disasters, and to reflect on how they can approach news media for successful crisis management. The objective is to transfer to CIOs knowledge in the fields of incident pre-planning and resilience to large scale incidents (e.g. flooding, antagonistic attacks, highway network collapse). This will help them in their efforts to reduce uncertainty and panic amongst disaster-affected populations at each stage of an incident. Learning to identify and use effectively several communication tactics is a necessary corollary for CIOs for building more resilient infrastructures and better managing expectations of affected communities as to when services will be restored. This can in turn enhance crisis management and improve not only the resilience of the CI they operate but also that of the communities who rely on their services every day. This lesson is valuable because it provides information and encourages reflection on inclusive approaches to mediated communication for effective crisis management. Finally, the following lesson has been designed in such a way to be easily adaptable to a broader spectrum of crisis management and communication.

To achieve the above aims, this lesson begins by exploring the role of traditional and social media between CIOs, emergency management organisations, and members of the public during crisis situations. The lesson then moves on to explore the role of traditional and social media during the different stages of a disaster, and within the wider information flows that can shape communication at times of crisis. Before concluding, the lesson draws together on all the issues considered in the form of a summative discussion of the change in news media and CI crisis management. Finally, the last part of the lesson includes the delivery of IMPROVER’s AESOP guidelines in the accessible format of an infographic; an infographic can be easily reproduced using open source online software and quickly distributed via social media to maximise its information outreach. The latter is available for (free) download on the IMPROVER website and promoted via the project social media presence.

By the end of this lesson, participants should be able to:

  • Explain the role of both social and traditional media in disseminating information during different stages of a disaster;
  • Understand how both social and traditional media can be deployed to manage citizen expectations about recovery times during a disaster and to liaise with other key stakeholders such emergency management organisations, and news media;
  • Use the AESOP guidelines to identify and develop best practices in crisis communication for CIOs;
  • Assess the ethical implications of using information crowdsourced via social media during such incidents.

Introducing the lesson

This lesson is derived from the AESOP Guidelines for Effective Crisis Communication between CIOs and disaster affected communities. Critical infrastructures invariably bear the brunt of human-made and natural disasters. During such incidents, crisis communication contributes to CI resilience by providing accurate information to members of the public about ongoing efforts to restore services.

The frequency with which man-made and natural disasters have disrupted modern societies has led to a renewed focus on how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be deployed by key stakeholders in order to enhance CI resilience. Recent research has suggested that the use of traditional and social media by emergency managers to share information with disaster-affected populations can increase disaster resilience within their respective areas (Oh et al., 2013). This is congruent with previous work that has applied resilience within social systems (Adger, 2000), which draws attention to the ways in which key stakeholders such as CIOs share information with the public during such incidents. The public increasingly expect emergency managers to use social media to respond to their queries in real-time as these incidents unfold. Although ICTs offer opportunities for such interactions, research indicates that members of the public continue to view traditional media channels (such as television and radio) as the most accurate and reliable sources of disaster information (Petersen et al, 2016). Therefore, it may be appropriate for CI operators, like other relevant stakeholders, to adopt a communication mix of both traditional and social media to prepare members of the public for the likely disruption to critical services during such incidents.

This lesson teaches CIOs the benefits of using IMPROVER’s AESOP guidelines to inform their communication practices at each stage of a disaster (mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery). It builds upon the results of IMPROVER project deliverables 4.1 and 4.2 in exploring effective communication practices for CIOs during disasters.

The importance of the topic

Communication during crises can aid community and critical infrastructure resilience through increasing preparedness, mitigating harm caused by disasters, and aiding recovery of services. Within this context it is important to from crisis information for emergency management organisations and CIOs to develop effective communication strategies that deliver information that people need through appropriate communication channels. Understanding the audience’s needs and characteristics is important to make sure that crisis communication reaches as many people as possible in a format they understand, because to provide successful communication, communicators should know their audience well (Lundgren & McMakin, 2009). Furthermore, if expectations of communication are not met this can lead to further discontent and frustration within the affected communities (Christoplos, 2006), which in turn negatively impacts upon community resilience.

During disasters, the everyday routines that are usually taken for granted are disrupted and the socially constructed view of ‘normal’ is no longer applicable. This uncertainty necessarily leads the members of the public to an increased information-seeking behaviour (Tierney, 2009). The aim of information-seeking is to provide relief from the sense of anxiety and distress that anticipating and experiencing a disaster can cause (Seeger et al., 2003). Information on the evolving situation and actions advised by official sources allows people to take appropriate action to mitigate harm. These options instil a sense of control reducing feelings of uncertainty due to the disaster (BBC World Service Trust, 2008). Information flows can also improve the quality of decision-making during crises (Veil et al., 2008; Veil et al, 2011). Finally, they can reduce the uncertainty amongst disaster affected populations, and strengthen preparedness of communities for future crises. In these and other ways, adequate flows of information can help in preventing the disruption of other elements of the socio-technical system.

CIOs need to become more aware and understand the potential use of traditional media and social media to share and spread information with a view to identifying the key components of effective crisis communication during crisis incidents. The identification of effective communication tactics is a necessary corollary for building resilience not only within CIOs, but also amongst the communities who rely on their services every day. It is through this need that IMPROVER’s AESOP guidelines were created to offer a simple step-by-step method for CIOs to enhance their crisis management and communication. This lesson (in Section 4) will teach learners how to address each guideline by a series of tailored activities, one for each guideline. The AESOP guidelines advise CIOs to:

  • Analyse the information-seeking behaviours of local populations before deciding which media channels to deploy during disasters;
  • Engage key stakeholders in order to ensure message consistency across traditional and social media platforms;
  • Social media should be used to provide real-time updates to citizens about ongoing efforts to restore services;
  • Observe and adhere to context-specific regulatory frameworks for emergency management and resilience;
  • Post-disaster learning should be employed in order to enhance and develop future communication strategies.

Crisis Management & Communication
a brief literature review on the use of traditional and social media

Disaster communication traditionally takes two forms: crisis communication and risk communication (Reynolds & Seeger, 2005). Crisis communication in the literature is often closely related to the field of public relations that focuses on how organisations can communicate with key stakeholders and the public during and after crises. In this, the main aims of crisis communication are usually recognised in the intention to explain an event and its effects, whilst providing information to mitigate harm (Reynolds & Seeger, 2005). This includes providing information to the public on how to keep safe and restoring public trust in emergency management organisations and CIOs involved in responding to crises. This can aid disaster resilience, as communities learn how to act during disasters to mitigate harm, and feel confident that emergency management organisations and CIOs are managing and aiding recovery from the disaster efficiently and effectively. From social theory, trust between stakeholders, e.g. the public and fire rescue services, is a pre-requisite for fostering in-depth dialogue and good communication, which fosters more effective collaboration when tackling complex issues (Tantanasi, 2015) such as a public affected by a disaster incident; this can then aid stakeholders such as CIOs to respond more efficiently and effectively to any disaster management calls. Risk communication, on the other hand, is more related to making the public aware of risks and what actions they can take to manage them. It is most commonly associated with public health measures, including how to act in specific instances such as evacuation during flooding, or more general action such as wearing sunscreen for protection against UV rays that can lead to skin cancer (Lundgren & McMakin, 2009; Seeger, 2006).

Along with simply providing information, risk communication incorporates persuasive tactics to encourage the public to take appropriate actions (Murray-Johnson et al., 2001). The public might have disproportionate perceptions of risks associated with a disaster due to a lack of information or the spread of disinformation and rumours. This can in turn increase the anxiety experienced by disaster vulnerable populations and perhaps even lead to inaction when urgent preventative steps are required. Risk communication increases disaster resilience as it provides the public with an accurate assessment of hazards and encourages them to prepare for future disasters and act in ways that reduce harm before, during and after a disaster. Considering these considerations, a combination of crisis and risk communication can lead to a more holistic communication strategy leading to an increase in resilience at all stages of a disaster (mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery).

With regards to the use of social media, recent research has showed that the use of social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, is increasing (Standard Eurobarometer 84, 2015), and will continue to increase (Reuter & Spielhofer, 2016). One of the main reasons for this increasing use is because compared to traditional media (television and radio) and other means of communication (telephone landlines, face-to-face) the use of the Internet and social media allows easy and instantaneous access to information (Reuter & Spielhofer, 2016). People use social media for various purposes: to get information, share content, and communicate with friends, family and various institutions (Shklovski et al., 2010). During an emergency situation, this can give people the feeling of being more in control of the situation, as well as feeling more connected to the rest of the social community (Shklovski et al., 2010). This condition facilitates the use of social media by various agents involved in emergency situations, including emergency agencies, emergency organisations, CIOs, and citizens. The use of these platforms by the public presents opportunities for emergency managers to supplement existing strategies and reach even more members of the public.

With the increasing ubiquity of social media there are an expanding number of potential actors that can contribute to emergency management. In this, citizens are increasingly viewed as the first responders to such incidents (Corbin, 2012; Scifo & Salman, 2015). Users of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Flickr can provide eyewitness perspectives that emergency management organisations can use to develop ‘situational awareness’ (i.e., the “ability to identify, process, and comprehend critical elements of an incident or situation” (Lindsay, 2011:4)). One interviewee, a representative of the French Ministère de l’Intérieur, noted this, “[social media] allows us to have an idea of what the public are thinking of the crisis response”. Along with providing a source of information to improve situational awareness, social media can also be used to explore public opinion of disaster response and recovery (Smith, 2010). This new method of communication during disasters follows a bottom-up approach, contrasting with the traditional ‘top-down’ model more widely used across Europe and the US in which official organisations distribute information to the public (Reilly & Atanasova, 2016). However, it should be acknowledged that social media users are generally not representative of the whole population and this militates against using their content as a reliable indicator of public opinion.

The AESOP guidelines

The following section briefly introduces the key pillars from the AESOP guidelines including examples drawn from IMPROVER’s various case studies. At the end of each guideline there is an activity that helps CIOs better engage with each guideline and its lesson, as well as reflect on the communication practices of their own organisation.

The AESOP guidelines advise CIOs to:

  • Analyse the information-seeking behaviours of local populations before deciding which media channels to deploy during disasters;
  • Engage key stakeholders in order to ensure message consistency across traditional and social media platforms;
  • Social media should be used to provide real-time updates to citizens about ongoing efforts to restore services;
  • Observe and adhere to context-specific regulatory frameworks for emergency management and resilience;
  • Post-disaster learning should be employed in order to enhance and develop future communication strategies.

Guideline 1: Analyse the information seeking behaviour

Communication and the exchange of information is a crucial element in today’s crisis management (Neuhaus, 2010). When talking about crisis communication one has to consider the whole flow of information including the people, the messages, the environment and the stakeholders involved. CIOs should understand which technology is used and the communicational preferences of the public to be able to define the best communicative channels to use with citizens during emergency situations. Drawing from the findings of IMPROVER’s deliverable 4.2, CIOs are advised to use a ‘communication mix’ of traditional media and social media (Reilly & Atanasova, 2016). In addition to considering the co-presence of traditional media and social media, CIOs should consider the differences in how their different target populations seek information. For example, a finding from IMPROVER’s deliverable 4.1 on the Barreiro floods case study in Portugal reported that Portuguese questionnaire respondents were much more likely to expect CIOs to have a hotline than other agencies, once again showing the importance of knowing the communication and information seeking habits of the stakeholders (Petersen et al., 2016). Considering existing differences in information seeking, this lesson would advise CIOs to analyse information-seeking behaviours of local populations before designing their communication strategies.

A more distinctive interpretation of the co-presence of traditional and social media in information seeking behaviours is given by the fact that people are most likely to use the means of communication that is available at the moment of the crisis. Therefore, people’s access to communication channels does not depend only on the target population (e.g. gender, age, culture) but also on functionalities. For example, during Hurricane Sandy residents in the area used every method available (peer networks, radio, television, and social media) to obtain information (Burger et al., 2013). Building upon this, CIOs should also consider a strategic use of multiple channels. This method should involve the analysis of the communication infrastructure available in the area and the analysis of the type of media used by local residents. There is a wide array of methods, such as surveys, questionnaires, telephone consultations, public consultation, stakeholder participatory workshops.


Guideline 2: Engage key stakeholders to ensure message consistency across tradiotional and social media platforms

CIOs should understand how emergency management organisations and crisis communication teams are organised, and how organisations communicate with each other and with the members of the public. However, there are challenges that slow down these relationships. According to findings from IMPROVER’s interviewees (representatives of COGIC and Ministry of Interior), in emergency management organisations, the presence of an internal hierarchical structure is often seen as the factor that slows the process of crisis communication. Collaboration between CIOs, emergency management organisations, and news media organisations is crucial to ensure that information shared is accurate and provides citizens with advice on how to mitigate effects of these incidents (Sutton et al., 2014). This can help enhance resilience where the lack of consistency might reduce the effectiveness of the information sharing.

In some EU member states, the national emergency management structure may restrict the ability of CIOs to collaborate with other emergency management organisations. For example, as noted above, our study found that in Portugal, Barreiro City Council does not communicate directly (person-to-person) with the general public during emergencies because they consider the restoration of services a priority. Conversely, emergency management organisations, such as DEMA, inform the public regularly across different channels and platforms. To create a uniform and effective approach CIOs should design their communication strategies to include collaborations with emergency management organisations, benefitting from the way they share information. The serial transmission can ensure a more accurate spread of information. For example, they could engage with social media platforms (such as Twitter) used by emergency management organisations to post and retweet crisis information.

Moreover, CIOs should ensure together with emergency management organisations and professional journalists in sharing consistent information across platforms in order to establish trust and maintain their image across different platforms and channels. For example, during the floods in Australia (2011), local communities set up Facebook pages to offer aid and share stories and images; which was reportedly the most important source of information accessed by local residents during that event (Bird et al., 2012). In addition, a study conducted on floods in Germany (2013) reported that Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps and other services were frequently used by victims and volunteers to coordinate the rescue activities (Kaufhold & Reuter, 2016). As these studies showed, there is a significant expectation from the public to receive information through various social media channels.

Another example would be French journalist’s Sylvain Lapoix’s work during the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks. His wide popularity as professional journalist using social media enabled the wide share of information on Twitter. The hashtag #PorteOuverte was widely used during the event in order to connect people who were in the area of the attack and looking for shelter. This event showed how the visibility offered by social media can be employed to enhance resilience and share information. Following the terrorist attacks, Lapoix reported that the same hashtag was mentioned on television after the Nice terrorist attack. In that case, the general public benefited from the impact of news media. During these two attacks, news media organisations and professional journalists amplified these messages and raised awareness about the initiative to provide shelter to those in affected areas. Considering this, CIOs should benefit from the same affordances from engaging with these agencies.


Guideline 3: Social media should be used to provide real-time updates to citizens about ongoing efforts to restore services

CIOs should benefit from the same affordances of social media that have enhanced emergency management organisations over the past decade. A study conducted by Keim and Noji (2011) showed two main advantages of social media for disaster resilience: the flexible and pro-active nature, and the immediacy of information. The flexibility of social media can help during disaster response and information dissemination. As discussed in IMPROVER project D4.1, in crises there is a wide expectation from the public to find up-to-date information (Petersen et al., 2016). This expectation is mainly given by the contemporary expectation to access a real-time flow of information (Unger, 2015). Therefore, to fulfil citizens’ expectations, CIOs should use social media as a space to share information about the restoration of services during crisis. The majority of interviewees reported that they do not tend to respond to queries raised by the public on social media mainly because it is time consuming. A representative of a French public transport company, for instance, reported an active use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Although they did not report a direct communication with individual citizens, they regularly provide general information on their platforms. The information they share is always verified internally by a legal team and worked by the crisis communication team ensuring the validity of information.

CIOs can also benefit from the fact that smartphones can be used to access the Internet independent of infrastructure such as power and telephone lines. Owning a smartphone can enhance resilience because, as discussed in deliverable 4.1, it can keep working for a short period even if there is no access to the central power grid (Petersen et al., 2016). The immediacy of information is not something that traditional media can offer, therefore it has been argued that social media is a unique platform in providing real-time disaster information (Gupta et al., 2013; Lerman & Ghosh, 2010). CIOs can utilise social media to give updates on efforts to restore services. As social media is collaborative it also offers a way for people to engage with disaster recovery services.

Regarding the use of social media during disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Institute (FEMA) is a good example of best practices. FEMA was the first organisation in the English-speaking world to use social media for information dissemination (Musacchio, 2014). The analysis of FEMA Facebook, Twitter and blog communication showed that Facebook messages were short signposts to further information and often contained imperatives (e.g. ‘Be prepared!’), Twitter tweets were shorter and often used hashtags, blogs were longer and similar in content to newspaper articles. On Twitter, FEMA was found to utilise consolidated terminology, with a focus on creating connections, and devising educational slogan-like messages. Although FEMA is an institute based in US, it can be used by CIOs as an example of best practices for providing real-time updates which can be developed in EU countries.

CIOs should also use functions such as the ‘retweet’ on Twitter to share messages from official sources. Official sources include emergency services, incident managers and local authorities, whereas unofficial sources are most likely to consist of content posted by citizens. Studies have shown that such repetition of official crisis information is more likely to convince people to take appropriate action to protect themselves and their communities from harm (Tierney, 2009; New Zealand, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, 2010; Stephens et al., 2013; Reilly et al., 2016). For example, research has shown that music festivals in Belgium repost and retweet content originally posted by local Police and other blue light organisations in the case of an incident (Reilly et al., 2016) thus improving resilience.


Guideline 4: Observe and adhere to context-specific regulatory frameworks for emergency management and resilience

CIOs should ensure that their communication strategies are compliant with relevant national regulatory frameworks. Reducing the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure and increasing their resilience are two of the major objectives within the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure protection (EPCIP). This document sets the overall frameworks for practices that aim to improve the protection of critical infrastructure in Europe. CIOs should consult this regulatory framework to place their organisation in line with EU regulations. A fundamental document of this programme is the Directive on European Critical Infrastructure (DECI) dated 2008. This document illustrates a common approach for assessing the need for critical infrastructure improvement (energy and transport sectors only). According to these studies, an adequate level of protection must be ensured and the detrimental effects of disruptions on society and citizens must be limited.

As discussed in IMPROVER deliverable D1.1, in the EU there are regulatory frameworks for CIOs that differ among countries yet there is not a well-established concept of resilience in relation to CIOs (Melkunaite et al., 2016). CIOs have different plans for different emergencies without presenting a uniform strategy. For example, Swedish CIOs have regulatory frameworks with different indicators to measure their performance: “in the power sector the regulator in Sweden has a number of metrics of performance included in the legislation” (Melkunaite et al., 2016: 65). Differences in regulatory frameworks raise challenges in relation to interdependencies of CIOs working in different countries. D1.1 reported that ‘in case of an accident, for example, different organisations are in charge on the two sides of the strait. In Denmark, it is the police, in Sweden, it is the fire department. There is an agreement that all four (both police and fire on both sides) departments are notified if something happens. This collaboration works quite well’ (Melkunaite et al., 2016:66). Communication among different organisations seems to be a crucial element that helps to solve the challenges experienced during incidents when services and infrastructures depend on each other. Furthermore, attention to resilience seems to be missing from objectives identified in many risk assessment methodologies for CIOs (Giannopoulos et al., 2012). Considering these existing differences, to be effective CIOs should refer to and adhere to their own national-level regulatory frameworks.

For example, Canada presents a National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure. This action plan aims to enhance resilience for critical infrastructures promoting a collaborative approach among all levels of government and CIOs. The strategy is mainly formed by three points: building partnerships, implementing an all-hazards risk management approach, and sharing and protecting information. Information sharing during crises between CIOs and emergency management organisations is an important way to enhance resilience; improving the information sharing in full respect of existing policies will also increase the effectiveness of emergency management operations. On the other hand, the Australian Government takes a non-regulatory approach to critical infrastructure. IMPROVER’s D1.1 revealed that the owners and operators of CI are best placed to manage risks to their operations and determine the most effective mitigation strategies (Melkunaite et al., 2016). Yet, in Australia, information sharing is considered to be one of the key elements to achieve critical infrastructure resilience, and so in 2003 the Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) was created. This aims to provide a secure environment in which critical infrastructure owners and operators could meet regularly to share information and cooperate within and across sectors to address security and business continuity challenges. To enhance resilience, the Australian Government promotes several activities to raise awareness, including exercises and workshops with industry and the Critical Infrastructure Program for Modelling and Analysis (CIPMA). This is similar to what is happening in Europe where ERNCIP and many of the FP7 and H2020 projects organize training activities for CIOs. The CIPRNet master classes and the ERNCIP annual workshops are examples of the interest in educating and improving CIOs’ resilience. CIOs should identify similar workshops to train their staff. At the same time, there must be assurance that shared information of a proprietary, sensitive or personal nature is not publicly disclosed and that any personnel handling of classified information will have an appropriate level of security vetting by their EU country”. When planning their communication strategies, CIOs should consult EU regulations available online which are regularly updated.


Guideline 5: Post-disaster learning should be employed in order to enhance and develop future communication strategies

For example, Canada presents a National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure. This action plan aims to enhance resilience for critical infrastructures promoting a collaborative approach among all levels of government and CIOs. The strategy is mainly formed by three points: building partnerships, implementing an all-hazards risk management approach, and sharing and protecting information. Information sharing during crises between CIOs and emergency management organisations is an important way to enhance resilience; improving the information sharing in full respect of existing policies will also increase the effectiveness of emergency management operations. On the other hand, the Australian Government takes a non-regulatory approach to critical infrastructure. IMPROVER’s D1.1 revealed that the owners and operators of CI are best placed to manage risks to their operations and determine the most effective mitigation strategies (Melkunaite et al., 2016). Yet, in Australia, information sharing is considered to be one of the key elements to achieve critical infrastructure resilience, and so in 2003 the Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) was created. This aims to provide a secure environment in which critical infrastructure owners and operators could meet regularly to share information and cooperate within and across sectors to address security and business continuity challenges. To enhance resilience, the Australian Government promotes several activities to raise awareness, including exercises and workshops with industry and the Critical Infrastructure Program for Modelling and Analysis (CIPMA). This is similar to what is happening in Europe where ERNCIP and many of the FP7 and H2020 projects organize training activities for CIOs. The CIPRNet master classes and the ERNCIP annual workshops are examples of the interest in educating and improving CIOs’ resilience. CIOs should identify similar workshops to train their staff. At the same time, there must be assurance that shared information of a proprietary, sensitive or personal nature is not publicly disclosed and that any personnel handling of classified information will have an appropriate level of security vetting by their EU country”. When planning their communication strategies, CIOs should consult EU regulations available online which are regularly updated.

To improve their practices, CIOs should rely on feedback and comments provided by citizens in relation to the services they offer and how they dealt with past crises. For instance, through social media platforms, they should collect comments and feedback on how they performed. However, as a representative of a French public transportation company reported, the majority of comments that CIOs receive are about train delays or disruptions. It is important that key lessons are acknowledged in order to address gaps and/or weaknesses in communication strategies. A take away lesson for all CIOs should be that a systematic review should focus on what elements of communication strategy enhance resilience during crisis situations. This should include communication with emergency management organisations and the general public. In doing this, CIOs should reconsider also the criteria used to evaluate the communication strategy.

Conclusion

Areas of change for communication management during emergency

This lesson has shared examples of existing best practice in the fields of both crisis and risk communication, with a view to teach learners how to establish the most appropriate channels to be deployed during such incidents. The key focus of this lesson were the AESOP guidelines and particularly how information shared via traditional media and social media can help build resilience in critical infrastructures, as well as the communities they serve. This lesson has added value by providing information and encouraging trainees to engage and reflect on inclusive approaches to mediated communication for effective crisis management. Finally, the following lesson has been designed in such a way to be easily adaptable to a broader spectrum of crisis management and communication.

An extensive review of the literature on crisis communication can be found in IMPROVER’s deliverable 4.2 alongside in-depth examples of best practice identified from case studies both within IMPROVER and also world-wide. The impact of media coverage upon the behaviour of members of the affected public was also briefly explored in order to identify key lessons for CIOs and other key stakeholders e.g. police, fire rescue services who wish to use these channels to communicate with disaster affected populations. For more insights and best-case examples please refer to deliverable 4.2. The lesson has discussed all five pillars of the AESOP guidelines for effective crisis communication and their associated class activities which can be summarised in the following points:

  • Analyse the information-seeking behaviours of local populations before deciding which media channels to deploy during disasters;
  • Engage key stakeholders in order to ensure message consistency across traditional and social media platforms;
  • Social media should be used to provide real-time updates to citizens about ongoing efforts to restore services;
  • Observe and adhere to context-specific regulatory frameworks for emergency management and resilience;
  • Post-disaster learning should be employed in order to enhance and develop future communication strategies.


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EU flag This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 653390