Communicating Emergency Preparedness: Strategies for Creating a Disaster Resilient Public, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Communicating Emergency Preparedness

Strategies for Creating a Disaster Resilient Public, 1st Edition

By Damon P. Coppola, Erin K. Maloney

Auerbach Publications

286 pages | 24 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781420065107
pub: 2009-05-26
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Recent events worldwide have made disaster preparedness and disaster communication to the public a crucial concern. September 11th, the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and other mega-disasters have highlighted not only a woeful lack of community awareness of vulnerability but also the absence of a clear protocol for what to do as events unfold. The first book dedicated solely to the topic of pre-disaster communication, Communicating Emergency Preparedness: Strategies for Creating a Disaster Resilient Public presents the best ways to inform communities about disaster risk factors, response plans, and emergency procedures without fomenting panic or paranoia.

A public awareness campaign is the critical tool to help communities prepare themselves and to mitigate the human and economic impact of disasters. The authors provide an overview and history of public disaster preparedness education and then proceed to explore risk management and the development of a campaign strategy. They include specific instruction on how those charged with developing these programs can obtain funding from donors, foundations, and government grants.

Real Examples of Successful Programs

The second half of the book features a series of case studies which identify various public awareness campaigns that have been successfully conducted in different communities. The text provides program facts and contact information for those who designed and executed the campaigns to enable communities to model their own efforts based on what has worked in the past.

Recognizing that knowledge is the best defense, this comprehensive, practical resource provides public administration officials, emergency managers, evacuation coordinators, and community leaders at the local and national level with the background and tools needed to plan, design, and carry out effective public disaster preparedness campaigns.


communicating effectively is imperative in emergency response. Authors Damon Coppola and Erin Maloney, who are both communications consultants, understand how central communications are to disaster management. In this work, they explain important measures such as development of communication strategies, partnership planning, and launching a directed public awareness campaign to reach targeted populations. … Communicating Emergency Preparednessis a solid read that provides substantive advice in a user-friendly format. This book is appropriate not only for communications professionals but also for government officials, emergency preparedness managers, risk consultants, and community leaders at all levels.

Brian M. Harrell, CPR M.A., writing in ASIS Book Reviews, August 2010

This book provides public safety and emergency management practitioners at local and national levels with the background and tools needed to plan, design and carry out public disaster preparedness efforts. It serves as an academic resource and a how-to guide. … Although written with an emergency management focus, Communicating Emergency Preparedness provides public relations and communications information that can be easily used in any field of public safety or public service. … this book is a quick and easy read that is well organized and jam packed with resources and references for further research. The book provides sidebars with tips for success and information, such as Web addresses and links. Each chapter ends with a list of additional publications and sources for more information. At the end of the book, there are roughly 20 pages of case studies, sample public education plans and an Appendix that lists organizations, Web sites and links to downloadable guides on public education and communicating with the public. …Communicating Emergency Preparedness would be a beneficial addition to any public safety professional’s library, but especially for senior-level individuals tasked with some level of preparedness or public education.

Bob Smith writing in Public Safety Communications, 76(1):49

In Communicating Emergency Preparedness, Mr. Coppola and Ms. Maloney embark on an ambitious attempt to connect academic concepts in several fields to actionable strategies for public communication for emergency preparedness. … the authors include a full chapter on Program Support, from funding sources and grant prospects to partners able to provide in-kind resources and even guidance on how a project team may learn to request support during the flow of the campaign. This piece de resistance may be just the ticket to help support the practitioner looking to convert the concepts of communication science and market research into actionable project planning to develop successful preparedness communication campaigns.

Steven C. Weiss, PhD, writing in the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Vol. 6 [2009], No. 1, Article 70

Table of Contents

Public Disaster Preparedness: In Theory and In Practice

Communication Science: A Primer

Social Marketing

The Public Disaster Preparedness Process: A Systems Approach

Purpose, Goals, and Objectives

Seeing the Bigger Picture: Communication as One Component of a Larger Solution

Requirements of a Public Education Campaign

The Dangers of Failed Risk Communication

Managing Risk, Emergencies, and Disasters

Fundamental Emergency Management Concepts

The Management of Risk

The Management of Emergencies and Disasters: Emergency Management Functions

The Management of Emergencies and Disasters: Emergency Management Structures

Governmental Preparedness Actions

Individual and Business Preparedness

Jurisdictional Management and Control: Defining Responsibility

What is Public Emergency Preparedness?

The Advantages of a Trained Public

The Campaign — Step 1: Early Planning

Define the Problem

Market Research

Existing Program Research and Gap Analysis

Determine Project Feasibility

Establish Realistic Goals and Objectives

Form the Planning Team and Coalition

Drawing Up Partnership Plans

Project Management

Step 2: Develop a Campaign Strategy

Project Kickoff

The Campaign Strategy

Selecting Appropriate Settings, Channels, and Methods

Selecting Communication Channels and Methods

Selecting Communicators

Design and Develop Message Content

Creating Targeted Materials

Social Norms

Design Materials

Activities and Events Planning

Establishing a Project Timetable

Creating the Comprehensive Communication Plan

Pre-Testing and Adjusting Campaign Materials

Campaign Implementation and Evaluation

Campaign Launch

The Media


Objectivity in Evaluation

The Justification for Evaluation

Process Evaluation

Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Design

Program Support

Types of Program Support

Sources of Support

Implementing a Fundraising Strategy

Fundraising Strategy Factors

Asking for Stuff

Emergency Management Public Education Case Studies

Multi-Cultural Disaster Preparedness Campaign

Multi-Cultural Disaster Preparedness Campaign

Preparing Children for Emergencies

Organized Training for Communities

Children’s "Edutainment" Program

Disaster Preparedness at Religious Institutions

Earthquake Readiness Taught to a Population Who Speaks English as a Second Language

Citywide Preparedness Effort

Volunteer Emergency Preparedness Program

Teaching Emergency Preparedness in Schools

Emergency Preparedness in Public Transportation

FEMA Prepares Children for Disasters

Disaster Preparedness in Schools

Emergency Preparedness in Neighborhoods

Public Private Partnership for Disaster Preparedness

National Public Education Effort

Appendix: Websites and Downloadable Guides Found on the Internet


About the Authors

Damon P. Coppola is the author of several leading emergency management academic and professional texts, including Introduction to Emergency Management, Introduction to Homeland Security, and Introduction to International Emergency Management. Mr. Coppola is also the co-author of several FEMA Emergency Management Institute publications, including Hazards Risk Management, Emergency Management Case Studies, Comparative Emergency Management, and NIMS and Incident Management Systems. As an independent consultant in the emergency management sector, Mr. Coppola has provided planning and technical assistance to emergency management organizations at the local, state, national, and international levels, and in both the nonprofit and private sectors. Mr. Coppola’s clients have included FEMA, The World Bank, Save the Children, The Humane Society, ACORN, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Corporation for National and Community Service, Marriott International, and more. Mr. Coppola received his masters in Engineering Management (MEM) in crisis, disaster, and risk management from the George Washington University.

Erin K. Maloney holds a masters in communication from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, and is working toward her doctorate of philosophy in communication with a specialization in environmental science and policy at Michigan State University. Ms. Maloney’s practical experience and research focus primarily on health communication, media, and research methods. Her research generally has implications for communication campaign message design and public processing of messages. Ms. Maloney consults on grassroots communication projects, most recently on a campaign that succeeded in passing a millage to preserve farmland and open space in the State of Michigan. Ms. Maloney is also an instructor and a research assistant in the department of communication at Michigan State University.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Forensic Science
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Affairs & Administration
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Communication Policy
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disasters & Disaster Relief