Home College PR support emerges in emergencies

PR support emerges in emergencies

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By Bob Crawshaw
A new scheme announced recently allows PR professionals to volunteer their skills to Canberra community organisations that support victims during bushfires and other emergency situations.
The Communicators Supporting Community Program makes Canberra communicators available to community groups that have relief roles under the ACT’s disaster recovery arrangements. Two volunteers will work with each organisation.
‘The 2003 bushfires showed the vital role that the ACT’s community sector plays in disaster relief’, said Maine Street Marketing Director, Bob Crawshaw. ‘In a crisis the community organisations that provide emergency support can quickly become overwhelmed by requests for information from the public and the media’.
Having professional PR volunteers as part of the team allows other volunteers to focus on providing family support, emergency clothing and counselling.
Last month organisers met with the ACT Disaster Recovery Committee to discuss the scheme. Volunteering ACT, Lifeline and St Vincent de Paul plan to use the scheme to have volunteer communicators in their ranks at the start of 2007.
Volunteer PR professionals will spend two days each year becoming familiar with their not for profit host. During an emergency they will bolster the organisation’s communications staff to help with handling inquiries and preparing information for public release.
The concept is modelled on a US partnership between the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the American Red Cross (ARC). The program was established after 9/11 and activated during Hurricane Katrina and the recent Florida hurricane season.
People can get more information by emailing info@mainestreet.com.au
Communicators Supporting Community is part of Maine Street Marketing’s corporate social responsibility program. The company (www.mainestreet.com.au) has provided free marketing workshops to 70 community groups in the past three years.

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