Is There a Difference Between a PIO and a Spokesperson?

The folks at Salt Lake Valley UASI (Urban Areas Security Initiative) recently asked a question over Twitter about the difference between a PIO and a spokesperson.


My initial thought was that the PIO was the person who prepared the spokesperson; the spokesperson talked to the media. By and large, I still think that’s true, but it’s really only one part of the puzzle.

When I saw the question, I answered that everyone who could have a camera or microphone put in front of them was a spokesperson. Responder, bystander, executive, disgruntled former employee. That’s a poor definition though, as a spokesperson is offical. But each of those people can speak about the emergency event–they are public information officers.

When I asked @SaltLakeUASI today what the outcomes of that question were, this is what I got back:


Man, I’ve worked in some places where I wouldn’t want anyone in front of a camera after a disaster (not here, though!). Are you prepared to have everyone in your organization be a PIO?