In anticipation of the upcoming tenth anniversary of the
9/11 attacks, the Associated Press has done something I’ve never heard
of: developed and released what folks are calling a “situational
stylebook.” Dubbed the Sept. 11 Style and Reference
the AP has compiled a list of terms (including pronunciation) that
reporters may use in their stories about the event, in addition to a
full account of all related events from 8:00 a.m. until 5:25 p.m.
What. A. Resource.
Normally something this cool would be enough, but I had a thought. Why
don’t we do this as PIOs? Now this obviously isn’t for everyone and
every emergency. But for those long-term responses? Think public
health emergencies or wildland fires or oil spills. Something that’s
going to go on for days, weeks, months and has lots of confusing
terms, spellings and pronunciations. There are names to remember,
players that may be difficult to sort out and critically important
And really? How difficult would that be? A two-page document that
gives the history of your emergency. That allows reporters and
bloggers and the public to get it right the first time, no matter at
what point in the story they’ve become interested.
A disaster stylebook, if you will. You’ve probably already got all of
the information you need to put one together. Now, just remember to
post it to your Media