By Rachel Racusen, Director of Public Affairs
As many of you know, here at FEMA, our social media channels are a key tool in our communications toolbox. And we don’t just think about them as another way to put out a press release – social media is changing the way we do business.
Under the leadership of Administrator Fugate, FEMA has launched a mobile website to make critical information more accessible for disaster survivors, and we use Twitter @fema and @craigatfema) and Facebook, along with many other forms of communication, to better support our state and local partners, communicate with the public, and gain situational awareness of what’s happening on the ground before, during and after disasters.
In other words, it’s another way we can go out and listen, so that we can better serve our customers – the American people – by using the tools that you are all using.
Today, USA Today further explored this in an article about how Twitter, Facebook and other tools were used during the Japan disaster. As the article highlights, one of the greatest benefits of social media is that it also empowers the public to be active members of our emergency management team:
“Japan's disaster has spotlighted the critical role that social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube and Skype increasingly are playing in responses to crises around the world. They may have been designed largely for online socializing and fun, but such sites and others have empowered people caught up in crises and others wanting to help to share vivid, unfiltered images, audio and text reports before governments or more traditional media can do so…
"We've got to stop looking at the public as a liability and start looking at them as a resource," Fugate says. What makes social media so different than other emergency response tools, he says, is that it "allows a two-way conversation in the impact zone, so that we can link people with information, resources and ideas."
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the full story here.
And as always we want to know any creative ideas you have for how we can better use social media. Leave a comment below or Tweet us @fema.