Being prepared is the key to maximising opportunities for gathering communications material, especially as time will be of the essence. This includes giving some thought to the following:
Checklist: Before an emergency: be prepared
- Ensure media and communications are in your Emergency Preparedness Plan. What support will you need if an emergency hits? Are there any sensitive issues you need to be aware of, like ethnic divisions, political controversies, government view of NGOs? How will you manage communications in an emergency if there is an Internet outage or the mobile network is down?
- Identify your spokespeople. This will likely be the Country Director (CD) and Assistant Country Director (ACD), and Emergency Team Leader if you have one. Ensure they have media training.
- Identify your media focal point. Who will handle media requests until an Emergency Communications Officer is deployed? This will likely be your Communications Officer if you have one, or your ACD or Emergency Team Leader.
- Implement a Country Office Media Policy. Ensure your staff know what to do if they are approached by a journalist. Monitor national news for information relevant to CARE’s work.
- Ask your Lead Member or Regional Communications Advisor for media relations training for your senior staff so you have the skills and confidence to handle media interviews in an emergency.
- Have communications equipment on hand. Ensure you have a camera, branded clothing and stickers, etc.
CARE International Members:
- Ensure media and communications are in your Emergency Preparedness Plan. What support will you need if an emergency hits? Do you have holiday coverage for spokespeople or to ensure sign-off, or to launch an appeal? Does everyone know their roles and responsibilities? Do you have a pre-approved statement to post on your website immediately after a disaster strikes to show CARE is prepared to respond?
- Do you have a staff member on the CI Roster for Emergency Deployment (CI-RED)? Having a staff member on the CI-RED increases your chances of having one of your nationals deployed to an emergency, which can be of interest to your national media and ensure you have a native speaker available for interviews.
- Identify who is your communications focal point for emergency media. This person should be monitoring your media on a regular basis for angles of new and ongoing emergencies that would be of interest in your media market.
- Clarify your approval procedures. Who do you need to sign off your press releases?
- Identify spokespeople in your office and ensure they have media relations training.
- Coordinate with fundraising. Who can sign off on launching an appeal?
- Develop a list of key contacts: photographers, journalists, videographers etc.