Thursday, March 7, 2019

My Research on the Role of Public Information Officers (PIOs) in Emergency Response: Results of a Pilot Study

In 2018, I began my research on the role of Public Information Officers (PIOs) in emergency response. I subsequently reported on what the academic literature says about this subject. Since then, I've conducted  interviews with PIOs, analyzed my notes, and written them up as a pilot study. I'll be presenting that pilot study at the International Academy of Business Disciplines Annual Conference, which will take place from April 3-5, 2019 in Jacksonville, FL.

Here's an abstract, or summary, of the paper on the pilot study. Go here to view the complete paper including the findings of my research. 

***** Research on the Public Information Officer (PIO)’s role during emergency or disaster situations wants for further critical inquiry (Curnin & Owen, 2014; Vidoloff, 2011). More specifically, what is missing from existing research is a consideration of how PIOs navigate the National Incident Management System (NIMS)’ Incident Command System (ICS) to fulfill their responsibilities. The ICS provides a systematic, proactive approach and template to help agencies respond to emergency situations. (“National Emergency Management Plan,” 2014; “NIMS:Frequently Asked Questions,” n.d.; Vidoloff, 2011). 

This pilot study, based on semi-structured interviews with six PIOs working for public sector organizations in California, aimed to achieve an understanding of how PIOs fulfilled their responsibilities in emergency response, in particular, the strategies and techniques they used to maneuver through a federal system only encountered during emergencies. Results highlighted the importance placed by PIOs on relationships, relationship building, and training and education prior to emergencies to help them perform their duties, although research questions precluded the exploration of specific strategies and tactics employed to manage the intricacies of the NIMS framework. Moreover, the researcher’s inability to secure the participation/sponsorship of a professional association representing PIOs in a specific industry/context meant study participants represent a range of professional interests and skills. Future research would best be based on broader participation of PIOs, working within a specific organization or context, to focus on how they built and maintain relationships prior to and during emergencies that in turn translated into specific actions taken to manage the complexities of NIMS.*****    

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