Like many of you, I’ve been looking at the widespread damage caused by severe flooding and landslides across our province with dismay. My thoughts and strength go to our chapter members and their loved ones who may have been impacted directly by this latest disaster.
If you haven’t been directly impacted by this period of severe flooding, chances are you are helping your organizations, clients and/ or communities respond to this latest state of emergency. Like Past President, Adam Brayford, SCMP, stated approximately 20 months ago when the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency was first declared in our province, “communication professionals are at the very centre of the [global] response.”
The role of communications in disaster response
This time, like the unprecedented heat dome and wildfire season that preceded it, the response is ever so visible at our doorstep. To those of you out there who are supporting first responders, municipal governments and other organizations on the frontline of our flood response, thank you for the work you’re doing.
Whether you’re actively engaged in gruelling emergency response centre work or preparing your organization’s statement in support of our impacted communities, your IABC community offers resources we can leverage during and after disaster response:
- For a quick, easy-to-digest read, Peyton Woodson Cooper, CMP, CPC recently published Lessons for Effective Employee Communications and Engagement During a Crisis on Catalyst, the official publication of IABC.
- For an engaging watch or listen (depending on your YouTube preference), IABC Houston and Pierpont Communications recently co-hosted a virtual webinar on resilience, preparedness and interagency coordination within cyber security, infrastructure and related industries requiring agile emergency response.
Our community is larger than you might think
As members, we have access to a variety of resources like the two examples listed above. Perhaps more importantly, at the click of a button, we have access to a global network of peers who may have timely advice on the exact situation we currently face in our province.
Just think, how were our Australian colleagues supporting disaster response during back-to-back wildfires followed by floods at the beginning of 2020? Visit the Hub, IABC’s exclusive virtual community to share resources and best practices, host and participate in discussion groups and much more.
One thing I truly appreciate about our global community is that when one communicator is in need of support there is an entire group of willing participants who have been in your exact place ready to lend some advice and practical resources.
For example, when you visit the Hub you can come across colleagues like Edward Segal, who can point you to authored resources like this one. In the article, Edward shares U.S. Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) observations and insights on how the agency prepares for a crisis and what companies can learn from the U.S. government’s approach to crisis management.
Disasters and the impact on our profession’s mental health
Communication teams across the globe have kept teams connected and held organizations together, but this has come at a cost to the exhausted professionals whose mental health is suffering.
Sia Papageorgiou, FRSA, SCMP, managing director at the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence (CSCE), chair of the Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC) and former IABC regional and chapter leader.
Speaking of resilience and mental well-being, here are three more communications-focused articles/ practical tools from Catalyst:
- How to Build Crisis Resilience, for Yourself and Your Team by Caroline Sapriel, founder and managing partner of CS&A International, a global risk and crisis management consulting firm.
- Caroline also offers this checklist for how to continually build your crisis resilience.
- Attitude, Relationships and Environment: Strategies for Prioritizing Mental Well-Being by Georgia Eather, treasurer and board member for IABC UK & Ireland.
Sia, who I quoted above, is currently asking all communication professionals to spend 10 minutes to complete the online “So how do you really feel?” survey. The survey is designed to explore how communication and public relations professionals are feeling about their mental wellbeing since the beginning of the global pandemic.
I encourage all of you to take a few minutes to reflect on your mental well-being. If you or someone you care about is in need of mental health support, seek help.
Do you have expertise to share?
Our community needs a local perspective to shape their understanding of how communication can drive impact today. If you have ideas to share—be it in a blog, webinar, virtual hangout or otherwise—we’re here to partner with you. Email us at email@example.com.
The roads that connect our beautiful British Columbia may be temporarily gone but the work that you are all doing is helping our communities face the lasting impact of the disaster and will carry them through recovery. Once again, thank you for everything you’re doing!