Can You Hear Me Now?

Pop Quiz!

How do your publics want to learn about impending disaster?

Bzzt. Time’s up. Hopefully your answer was more than, “Well, we have this thing that some people are signed up for…” And I really hope your answer was more than, “The news.”

Well, tiny Eden Prairie, Minnesota didn’t like their answer to the pop quiz, so they set out to find out. In this great article out of Emergency Management Magazine, Rick Wimberly explores this process.

Senior Communications Coordinator Katie Beal, as part of her Master’s thesis, sent an Emergency Communication Survey around town that asked the following questions:

  1. How would you prefer to receive urgent messages from City officials?
  2. How would you likely share emergency information with City officials? …with friends, family and others in the City?
  3. How would you prefer to receive initial (first) notification about specific incidents?

There are two things about this that I really like. First, now they’ll know how to get in contact with their publics! Second (while more subtle, I think this is the better of the two), they’ve actively engaged the public in emergency planning! If this was tied to town halls about hazard vulnerabilities and the results were circulated along with draft plan language and the whole thing was tied to a personal preparedness campaign—wow! And even if none of that happened (which it probably did not), just getting the survey and being asked to think about that hopefully spurred some people to think about their own preparedness.

And frankly, I think that has the chance to do more long-term good than deciding if Facebook or text messaging is the preferred route. Kudos, Eden Prairie.

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