Critical first steps in emergency media management: what to do and when
Checklist: Critical first steps in emergency media management for the first 72 hours in a rapid-onset emergency
The Lead Member (LM) Media Manager and CI Secretariat communications will work together with the Country Office(CO)/Regional Management Unit (RMU) to do the following: :
- CO media focal point: Decide on immediate media focal point in CO and tell all staff to channel media requests through the media focal point.
- Spokespeople: Identify approved CO spokespeople. Provide CI with spokesperson names, contact info, nationalities, languages spoken and headshots. Ensure all staff are aware that only authorised spokespersons should give interviews. Provide media coaching to spokespeople when needed, and ensure they have updated talking points. CI Members can also use their own staff as spokespeople unless otherwise advised. You can create a spokespeople grid.
- Who’s doing what: Divide responsibilities for handling press releases, talking points, CI member requests, media etc. between LM, CO, Regional Communications Advisor and CI Secretariat communications. Notify COMWG of who’s doing what.
- Approval procedures: Agree on approval procedures for press releases, talking points, human interest stories etc. as per the sign-off protocol in the Communications Handbook (page 12).
- Media strategy: Develop an initial media strategy. Identify any security risks/political sensitivities, advocacy messages, etc. Example strategy: Ukraine crisis global communications strategy and risk analysis.
- Workplan: Develop a communications workplan for the early stages of the emergency. This should include: press releases, key messages, stories of those impacted by the emergency, photos/videos, CARE’s response to the emergency (interviews with staff, broll of distributions or other CARE activities) and possibly blogs.
- Deploy Emergency Communications Officer(s) and/or photographer/videographer: Determine if it is necessary/beneficial to deploy an Emergency Communications Officer(s) and/or photographer/videographer. If yes, they should be identified and deployed ideally within 48 hours as per the personnel deployment protocol. Notify COMWG immediately and send contact information for Emergency Communications Officer.
- Sharing information: Send all approved information to
email@example.com; copy relevant CO/RMU staff. Post press releases, blogs and stories on Reliefweb. Send press releases to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In the first hour:
- CO media focal point information
- Spokespeople information and headshots
- Direct quotes/observations from CO staff or CD to use with media or for social media posts
- Within 3-12 hours of an emergency:
- Customised pre-approved emergency boilerplate statement (updated as more information arrives)
- Relevant twitter handles (key CO and emergency staff)
- Press release or short media statement
- Fact sheet or basic information about CO programming – example of fact sheet
- Photos (from CO preferably, or link to Reuters AlertNet photos)
- As soon as a CARE person is on the ground: audio clips of observations/quotes or video (mobile footage is OK, but consider using a pin mike)
- Within 12-24 hours, the following should ideally be sent to CI:
- Blog, story or more direct quotes from CO staff
- Initial short talking points and/or Q&As
- Dollar handles
- Number of CO staff: local and international
- Regular e-mail update(s) with any additional information or guidance
- Within 48-72 hours, the following should ideally be sent to CI:
- Initial fundraising target and press release announcing launch of appeal
- Content for emergency factsheet sent to CEG, who will arrange for design
- Video (if connectivity permits) – mobile footage is OK, but consider using a pin mike
- Fundraising pipeline (how much has been raised so far)
- Ongoing activities:
- Identify and share stories, photos and media hooks featuring women and highlight how CARE’s response is particularly helping/empowering women.
- Establish a media contact list and a media log to keep a written record of when contacts with the media take place, the name of the journalist and subjects discussed. Alert the relevant CI Member if you have contact with a journalist from their market.
- Proactively develop relationships with media on the ground for maximum coverage.
- Develop and share ongoing materials for communications use, including further press releases, twitter/social media updates, updated messaging, Q&As, human interest stories, blogs, photos, video, etc.
- Arrange journalist visits to CARE sites. If a journalist visits a CARE site, have a CARE staff member and preferably the Emergency Communications Officer with the journalist at all times. Provide logistical support to journalists when possible.
- Assessment of media demand on Country Office and whether LM Executive Management Team member or other leader is needed for reinforcement, to do media interviews and take pressure off CO spokespeople.
- Be aware of the domestic media reactions to CARE’s presence in the emergency. Work with the CO Communications Officer (if available) to liaise with domestic media.
- Develop an appropriate response to any negative/inaccurate media coverage.
NOTE: The above timeframes are ideal targets only for rapid onset emergencies. In some cases it will take longer to get certain information, deploy staff, or even contact the CO due to communications difficulties.