***** Disaster Communications in a Changing Media World. By George D. Haddow and Kim S. Haddow; published by Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann; available from ASIS, item #1826, 703/519-6200, www.asisonline.org; 240 pages; $49 (ASIS members), $54 (nonmembers).
Although written for a government audience, this volume contains excellent, useful information readily adaptable to many of the media situations that frequently confront security practitioners.
One chapter, “Principles of a Successful Communications Strategy,” is especially relevant to meeting the information needs of the customer. When readers couple that chapter with the chapter on “Disaster Communications Audiences,” they begin to understand the need to craft messages for specific audiences and to select equally customized means of disseminating those messages.
The authors emphasize the proliferation of “new media” and the advantages and challenges they present. Organizations can no longer control the content and dissemination of information so they must be more transparent and exploit new media to insure accurate, complete messages. The authors note that phenomena like camera phones and crowdsourced reporting mean that information now flows from the media into operations centers, not just outward. The concept of integrating “first informers” into the traditional communications process may help readers find innovative solutions to their own communication problems.
The authors’ analysis of actual crisis communications and inclusion of numerous examples provides the reader real-world understanding of possible errors and successes. The authors provide ample resources including definitions, innovations, blog sites, references, and an outline for developing a communications plan that can be tailored to the needs of many different organizations.
The authors write clearly and use checklists to facilitate understanding. In addition to the obvious crisis situations, the information provided is eminently useful in the development of a security supportive culture and awareness campaigns within an organization.
Communicating the security message to our various audiences and earning their willing support and participation is essential to the success of a security organization. Given that most security professionals and police would rather walk into a dark alley searching for an armed felon than spend a minute in front of a camera and a microphone, this text is both necessary and timely.
Reviewer: Ron Fernstedt is regional physical security manager for Discover Financial Services in Utah. He served as public information officer for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office for 15 years and assisted in development and implementation of police counterterrorism media programs in Mosul, Iraq, and Kabul, Afghanistan. He is a member of the ASIS International Crime/Loss Prevention Council.