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Nigel Kay: Good Communication is Essential in an Emergency

Nigel Kay, the former BBC reporter and expert of crisis communications, conducted a workshop for media, regarding emergency and crisis management in Borjomi, on the 2nd of May. The training was supported and organized by State Security and Crisis Management Council of Georgia as well as ASB, Georgian Red Cross, Danish Red Cross and OXFAM.

During the workshop, the trainer defined different objectives for the participants: the role of public service journalism in emergency planning and response, how government prepares to respond emergencies and how crucial it is to use social media on reporting of emergencies. Trainer showed few examples of what a significant role social media can play in emergencies. He underlined that social media has made delivering the information to the public faster and more effective than ever before.

“There is no question in my mind, that good communication is essential in an emergency. It’s arguably the most powerful tool that a government or the police force has in terms of managing the impact, containing the event. If we can give people the information they need to stay safe, keep secure, then it reduces of burden for us in terms of an emergency management. We can manage the emergency that much more effectively”- declared Nigel Kay.

With a very good example of Katrina hurricane in New Orleans in 2005, Nigel Kay explained how important it is that there is a good communication between media and government and a high level of collaboration about numerous of issues. Katrina example showed very clearly what could have been changed if the article concerning the dangers of big scale hurricane in New Orleans which was published few years earlier before the disaster was considered and city government had taken it into account. We could relate this case to Tbilisi flood in June 2015, regarding the fact that there had been the conclusion of experts published before the disaster, talking about the dangers of possible flood in the Vere valley.

Kay also talked about the principles of effective communication during crisis and presented very basic and standard principles which can be applied to emergencies in any country. He pointed out that there are four most important principles to consider when it comes to an effective emergency response: Safeguarding, reassurance, reputation and leadership.

At the end of the workshop, Kay explained in the interview with Caucasus Business Week, how he was invited to the training and the effort which has been invested to make this training happen.

“Couple of years ago, I met people from the State Security and Crisis Management Council of Georgia. They had come to an event in the UK where I met them and we talked about the issues in Georgia, surrounding emergencies and the way the government communicates with a public. For last two years, we have been trying to organize these two workshops aimed for national journalists and secondly for the communication staff working for government agencies. We have been able to organize it here in Borjomi and for me it’s a great pleasure and privilege to come to Georgia and talk about these issues”- explained a crisis communications expert, Nigel Kay.

“This training was planned a year and a half ago. The necessity for this sort of meeting was obvious after Tbilisi floods in June, 2015. Therefore, we signed a contract with Nigel Kay, because it was important to invite an international expert to discuss these issues”- declared Disaster Risk Reduction Program Coordinator at ASB, Teona Julukhadze.

By Medea Samkharadze
Reporter at CBW.ge
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