Homeland Security Department prioritizes education in its PR plans

WASHINGTON: The era of homeland security has introduced a slew of new PR challenges to the federal government.

WASHINGTON: The era of homeland security has introduced a slew of new PR challenges to the federal government.

One of those challenges - calmly but effectively educating the public about emerging threats - has in recent weeks been the subject of some high-level debate among federal public affairs officers.

Susan Neely, director of public affairs for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which legally came into being last week, has begun engaging her counterparts at other agencies in discussions about how to cultivate "a new template" for campaigns that will educate the public about terrorist threats, according to a number of participants.

"The new DHS leadership seems to recognize that a critical part of this new reality of normalcy that we now live in is keeping people informed of threats in a measured, professional way that they can understand and use," said Chet Lunner, director of public affairs for the Department of Transportation "We have to find a way to translate raw intelligence information into useful advisories and guidance that people who are not used to consuming that information can understand and find useful."

One of several possible campaigns being considered will focus on educating people who live or work near airports to recognize shoulder-mounted weapons capable of bringing down commercial airplanes, such as those used unsuccessfully in Kenya this past November.

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