UNC School of Government

Emergency Management & Crisis Communications

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About the course

Facing the news media can be nerve-racking even under the best conditions. Now imagine yourself in a crisis or emergency situation facing hostile reporters who want answers to their tough questions. What would you do? What do you say?

Dealing with a crisis or emergency situation can be daunting even before you face the media. Should you declare a state of emergency? Should you order an evacuation? Should you impose a curfew? How do you do any of these?

Whether you are facing a hurricane, a winter storm, a flood, or a riot, the skills and laws you need to know are the same. Learn the basics of news media and the rules of engagement (what you should & shouldn't say). Get tips for composing an effective message and compiling a plan to advance that message using earned media tactics such as print, radio, TV and social media. Learn what your legal authorities are in a time of crisis and how to use them to protect your citizens.

By the end of the session you’ll not only have a much better idea of what it feels like to actually be in a crisis communication situation, you’ll have a summary of specific take-away points to help you face a crisis communications situation in real life. And you’ll know what the law authorizes you to do and how to do it.

Your presenter is Mark Weaver, a national communications advisor with nearly three decades of national and North Carolina experience with public and private sector clients on crisis communications and media relations. Mark is joined by Norma Houston, Lecturer in Public Law and Government at the UNC School of Government, who specializes in emergency management law. Together, they’ll lead the group through interactive lecture and simulations in the art of dealing with the media, especially in a crisis or emergency situation, as well as your legal authorities in responding to and dealing with the emergency event.

Topics - Local and State Government

  • Leadership and Management
  • Other Local Government Functions and Services
  • Emergency Management

Who should attend

  • Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles
  • Elected Officials

Trust the experts

Norma Houston

Norma Houston joined the School of Government in 2006. Prior to that, she served as chief of staff and general counsel to State Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight. She has also worked for UNC President Erskine Bowles and served as Dare County attorney, assistant attorney general in the NC...


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