Thursday, September 22, 2011

Darwin local wins state award for cyclone communication

Creative Territory Director Tracy Jones won a state award for excellence at the Northern Territory Public Relations Institute Association (PRIA) Awards last night.
The crisis-communication expert took out the Corporate Social Responsibility category for improving communication in cyclones and other natural disasters in the NT.
Tracy, who has more than 20 years experience in crisis and emergency communication, gathered a body of research which led to the development of a community website and social media plug-in called EmergencyNT.
She said the work was borne in the aftermath of Cyclone Carlos, which hit Darwin without warning in February and brought down thousands of trees, flooded homes and blacked out power.
“At Creative Territory, we saw the community was confused by the mass of information being put out by various sources including government, emergency services, private business and the community.
“People were asking basic questions such as, ‘are the buses running, should I go to work, will my house flood and should I go to an evacuation centre?’. We participated in the conversation and undertook research on how it could be improved in the future.”
The research found only 54 per cent of people felt fully informed about the storm and 95.5 per cent would prefer a single online source for information.
Creative Territory has made the EmergencyNT tools available free of charge and shared the concept of a Twittercue, a set of pre-packaged words added to a media release, that enables Tweeters to accurately tweet a media release.
The Darwin boutique agency shared their findings with more than 250 businesses and public relations professionals to inform best practice and improve communication before, during and after an emergency.
“Cyclone Carlos taught us a lesson, not only about communicating in a crisis but also about our own social responsibility to our community,” Tracy said.
The 2011 State Award for Excellence is Tracy’s eleventh Northern Territory PRIA award.

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