Here's a PR opportunity – both local and national – in about as dire an area as we can imagine: the prevention of terrorism. How to prompt the public to be alert to potential terrorism or, put another way, to engage the public in counter terrorism. The color-coded U.S. terrorism alert system will be replaced in April. It's been stuck on "High" (Orange) since 2006 and is considered useless by many terrorism experts. The new system is being billed by Department of Homeland Security officials as more attuned to localities where terrorism concerns may be highest.
But no terrorism prevention system will be fully effective without the public's awareness and support. Hence a role for public relations in locales across the land. This fateful observation system shouldn't be left entirely to security and law enforcement officers. In England, it isn't. There, says the Security Debrief blog, "the government, homeland security professionals, educators, and municipal leaders engage in a constant, intelligent awareness and action dialogue with their constituents. Citizens at all levels become better informed with the key element of societal resilience – meaningful information."
A citizen in the U.S. may see an unattended bag and have one response, while a British citizen might have quite another. One of those reactions could be decisively important. Public relations is, in part, a conditioning process and homeland security is a sector that requires alert conditioning. So consider meeting with your local emergency response and security officials to ask what their PR needs might be. They've probably given that a fair amount of prior thought, even if they haven't yet acted on their insights – or fears.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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