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Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Editor-in-Chief: Renda-Tanali, Irmak, D.Sc.

Managing Editor: McGee, Sibel, Ph.D.

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The Evolving Role of the Public Information Officer: An Examination of Social Media in Emergency Management

Amanda L. Hughes
  • University of Colorado Boulder
/ Leysia Palen
  • University of Colorado Boulder
Published Online: 2012-06-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/1547-7355.1976


This work examines how the introduction of social media has affected the role of the Public Information Officer (PIO)—the public relations component of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Through analysis of 25 PIO interviews, we examine the work practice of PIOs and find that social media expand not only the scope and type of PIO work activity, but also the “information pathways” that exist between PIOs, the media, and members of the public. We model these changes and examine how the presence of social media challenges previous conceptualizations of PIO work. Lastly, we present a view of how PIO work could be better imagined for the future of emergency management organizations.

Keywords: crisis informatics; emergency management; ICT; NIMS; Public Information Officer; PIO; social media

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Published Online: 2012-06-21

Citation Information: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, ISSN (Online) 1547-7355, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/1547-7355.1976.

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©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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