Control measure – Media liaison for major incidents

Control Measure Knowledge

Media liaison for a major incident may include production and distribution of a core media brief for key stakeholders, central co-ordination of interviews, or even a centralised press office. It could also be necessary for an agency to provide additional press officers to support another agency that is under particular pressure.

Attendance of a media liaison officer (MLO) at the scene of a major incident should help to ease pressure on operational personnel from the media. It is vital that the MLO is able to quickly establish a procedure for working with media requests and for regularly briefing them on developments. Rumour and conjecture will flourish in a vacuum, and it is far better that the MLO gains the trust and confidence of the media by providing regular updates on events, even if there is little new to say.

Demonstrating awareness of the need for media representatives to meet deadlines or broadcast live reports will assist the MLO in establishing credibility. This is important as they may need to seek the co-operation of the media, for example to:

  • Publicise contact numbers for family and friends to use, such as for a casualty bureau if activated by the police
  • Organise pooled access to the major incident site for filming
  • Broadcast urgent appeals for donations of bedding or clothing
  • Provide details of evacuation or shelter arrangements

To remove workload pressure from the incident commander, it may be appropriate to nominate senior officers from responding agencies to act as the primary lead for media interviews.

Fire and rescue services should ensure all employees understand who is responsible for media briefings, and how they can be contacted. The MLO, or nominated person, should regularly brief relevant people in the fire and rescue service to ensure:

  • Requests for information from the media are routed correctly
  • Appropriate information is provided to family and friends of:
    • Those involved in the incident
    • Personnel on-duty
  • Website and social media updates are appropriate
  • There is an awareness of how the major incident is progressing and its potential impacts on:
    • Operational response to other incidents
    • Other fire and rescue service activities

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions