Admin: Crisis Communications: Best Practices in an Emergency

Wednesday, January 24 | 1:30 - 2:45p.m.

Session Description:
Floods, storms, major police incidents, public health emergencies, and tragic accidents. If you haven’t already had to handle communications about emergencies like these at your agency, chances are you will. So will you remember to alert a regulator? Advise your elected leadership before they hear about it from the media? Communicate with your staff while considering the sensitivities of those directly affected? It’s a lot to remember, and missing just one step can add to someone’s grief and even expose you to greater legal liabilities. The speaker has over two decades of experience in communicating about emergencies“ first as a journalist who covered them, and now as a park district communications leader who responds to them. Join a conversation about best practices in crisis communications.

Need for Session: 
I saw the WRPA newsletter that called for speakers, and the timing really got to me. Last week, an 8-year-old boy was severely injured in a near-drowning at one of our public pools. We spent two days in an incident-command situation, and I continue to manage communications on this issue as I write this six days later (he’s still in critical condition). As my bio notes, I spent 19 years as a journalist who covered emergencies, and I’ve spent the past eight years working for two public agencies, where I managed or co-managed crisis communications in various situations. I have experiences and tips to share that will be highly relevant to parks professionals.
Hunter George, Metro Parks Tacoma

Hunter George has over 25 years of experience as a journalist and communications professional. He covered natural disasters and other emergencies during a 19-year career with The Associated Press and The Tacoma News Tribune, and he also made presentations to college classes and community groups about the roles and practices of journalists. For the past eight years, he has helped manage communications for numerous emergencies during stints with Pierce County and now Metro Parks Tacoma. Those include more natural disasters as well as major police incidents, public health crises, and accidents. Hunter will draw on those experiences from both sides of communications -- as a journalist and as a public servant - to share best practices for parks and recreation professionals.