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


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.

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The Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (JHSEM) publishes original, innovative and timely articles describing and assessing research and practice in the fields of homeland security and emergency management. JHSEM promotes a comprehensive and dynamic perspective, providing readers with up-to-date information regarding the evolving nature of the homeland security and emergency management fields.