Why FEMA is involved in social media
FEMA has been engaging in Web 2.0 tools and on social media sites nationwide as part of its mission to prepare the nation for disasters. FEMA's goals with social media are: to provide timely and accurate information related to disaster preparedness response and recovery; provide the public with another avenue for insight into the agency’s operations; and engage in what has already become a critical medium in today’s world of communications. FEMA’s social media ventures function as supplemental outreach, and as appropriate channels for unofficial input.
How FEMA is Involved
All FEMA social media accounts outside of the www.FEMA.gov domain carry the branded femainfocus look and feel. This provides consistency and accountability for content in that the public and our partners can rest assured it is the authorized FEMA account and that the information is accurate. Citizens can engage more easily with the emergency management community through social media sites, and increase their role in disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
Starting with YouTube as a platform to host and share videos, FEMA began capturing stories from disaster response and recovery efforts to explain the scope of its mission. Videos have ranged in subject from preparedness, response, and recovery to mitigation and explanations of how specific federal aid programs operate. The subjects, or voices, have been FEMA staff, state and local authorities, and individuals affected by disasters. The approach to these web videos was to capture the voice and perspective of the community involved in a disaster and present it as an opportunity to help educate others on FEMA's mission and programs.
FEMA has been using Twitter www.twitter.com/femainfocus since October, 2008 as a means to offer information about the agency's mission, efforts and perspective. The agency also launched its YouTube page www.youtube.com/fema in October, 2008 to provide stories about how its programs work in communities nationwide as they prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.
Previous to the transition of the former agency leadership, Administrator Paulison participated in a media availability using FEMA's Twitter Account. The Administrator sent and received messages through the agency account to citizens utilizing the social media tool. The exchange was followed by staff, mass media, the American public and local/state emergency managers. Deputy Administrator Johnson participated in the agency's first Bloggers Roundtable in January, 2009. Both events offered greater transparency and a candid public interaction of senior level government employees addressing public queries.
FEMA External Affairs has been pragmatically adapting its communications efforts towards inclusion of social media since June, 2008. In fact, FEMA External Affairs, in coordination with the FEMA Office of Chief Counsel, was one of the first federal agencies to achieve a modified user agreement with Google in May, 2008, providing a working example for other federal agencies. It also broke new ground for a federal agency through its use of Twitter to host the first all access "press conference" through the tool. For the Twitter event, FEMA set new ground rules for federal engagement and provided its results online in a move to usher in full transparency www.fema.gov/media/2009/010909.shtm