Strategic communication through all stages of a major emergency life cycle, with particular reference to the needs of Ireland
Connors, Paul (2009) Strategic communication through all stages of a major emergency life cycle, with particular reference to the needs of Ireland. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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This study asks if a strategic approach to the management of communication can assist and support the overall operational commander in effectively managing a major
emergency situation. Communication in this regard includes important strategictactical functions that need consideration when the community faces significant loss
of life or damage, and incorporates tasks such as media management, public information, the raising of public awareness, internal communication, public affairs,
community relations, and survivor and victim relations. Encompassing these functions are a number of overarching principles that, when adopted, allow the entire
process to be approached from a strategic rather than a tactical viewpoint. The study demonstrates how an efficient, strategically focused communication team can assist the operational commander in managing a major emergency situation.
The dissertation explores principles and practices for strategic communication management for major emergencies. It recommends a particular framework that is underpinned by six strategic communication principles. The framework was
developed taking into account relevant theories and models of strategic communication and management, augmented by detailed primary and secondary qualitative deductive research. Research in this regard included reading not only the academic literature but also a broad range of official Irish and other documentation, including reports, manuals, guidance materials and legislation. Original primary
research was undertaken to ascertain how a number of countries, regarded as leaders in this field, approach this subject and detailed interviews were conducted with
responsible officials in Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. As relatively little data exists on the subject of major emergency strategic communication in the Irish context, in-depth interviews were also conducted with key individuals involved in major emergency management in Ireland.
The study demonstrates that the strategic communication function is increasingly a critical success factor in major emergency management internationally. It also shows
that, while major emergency communication initiatives have been undertaken in Ireland, the Irish approach is somewhat fragmented and tactical in nature.
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