WASHINGTON: The Consortium for Risk and Crisis Communication (CRCC) will train the Mississippi Hospital Association, the Florida and Minnesota Departments of Agriculture, and Golden Gate Healthcare within the next month to help them better manage public communications during emergencies, such as an outbreak of influenza.
Created in 2000, the consortium consists of PR firms Widmeyer Communications and New York-based Center for Risk Communication. The CRCC, which offers training in crisis communications planning, response, and recovery, recently completed training the state health departments of New York, Delaware, and Colorado. Dr. Tim Tinker, SVP at Widmeyer, said the training sessions involved an average of 30 to 50 people each from state health departments and other state agencies.
Tinker declined to discuss what the value was of the training sessions, which typically last a day or longer.
“This type of training is part of a much broader and comprehensive response strategy, and not only in the public health sector but across all agencies,” Tinker said. “Everything feeds into this overall state response apparatus.”
US states have in general been working to improve the coordination among various crisis agencies partly with the financial assistance of the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC itself has created a new global communications center.
Such efforts aren’t new. Other PR agencies that have created units to offer risk communications training for such crises as avian flu include Publicis, Hill & Knowlton, and Ketchum. The State Health Department of New York started similar training in a “concerted” way in December 2002, according to Kristine Smith, the state’s director of the public health risk communication office of science and public health.