How do we respond in the event of a crisis? How do we prepare ourselves for effective crisis communications? How many times do we find ourselves organizing a press conference without following the proper protocol? How to build better and lasting relationships with the media? The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) recognized this need, especially for our community. To address this, CIOGC took the initiative of collaborating with the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHSEM) to offer a Public Information Officer (PIO) Media Training Course. CIOGC staff and several members of the community filled the class capacity on January 27, 2016.
The course was an all-day workshop training developed to equip PIOs with tools and skills needed in order to coordinate messaging across multiple jurisdictions and agencies by way of a Joint Information System. PIOs are responsible for interfacing with the public and media and serves as the point person and liaison for information, particularly during times of crises. Participants learned the do’s and don’ts of press conferences and the importance for there to be a designated PIO to help streamline the messaging process. The workshop was led by Mr. Sabit Abbasi, Emergency Management Specialist PIO, and Mr. John Nebl, Emergency Management Coordinator PIO.
The training began with an overview of the role of a PIO and an explanation of how every organization has a staff that plays the role of a PIO. The tasks may include writing media releases, developing communications packets (fact sheets, newsletters, etc.), serving as a communications advisor, coordinating with media and conducting media briefings, and maintaining the organization’s “brand reputation or image”.
The focus of the discussion then transitioned to the role of media and its evolution. The instructors offered tips on how to personalize relationships with the media and how to use the technique of message mapping to develop sound bites. Finally, the role of social media for effective communication was discussed. An emphasis was placed on the importance of the coherence and consistency of the messaging on all social media platforms and the significance of social media monitoring. The training concluded with a tour of the DuPage County Office and an overview of a typical day of a POI at the office.
The workshop was attended by CIOGC staff members and communicators from member organizations. The workshop deemed to be beneficial and helped participants gain confidence in media responses, especially through the hands-on activity of speaking in front of a rolling camera. CIOGC would like to extend its thanks to the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and particularly Mr. Sabit Abbasi, for making this training possible. CIOGC is looking to coordinate another abridged version of the training outside of work hours for those who had work constraints. Stay on the lookout for the announcement!