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USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory news media management guide — General protocols and templates

March 25, 2020

This guide describes general protocols and provides templates for news media management at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) and is intended for use by the CVO scientist-in-charge, communications staff, scientists, and guest communications colleagues. This public version, with CVO names and contact information removed, may be useful to other agencies developing their own protocols and templates. This guide evolved from a smaller document hastily assembled out of necessity during the complex and overwhelming news media interest in the 2004–2008 Mount St. Helens eruption. News media interest exceeded the need for life-saving crisis communication and foretold of the need for future multi-faceted and well-coordinated news media and social media responses during future volcanic events.

This guide accompanies the USGS Volcano Science Center’s (VSC’s) general guidelines and protocols for how communications staff at all VSC observatories will work together to respond to news media requests. The protocols and templates are applicable to (1) normal conditions when CVO has an opportunity to be proactive with its messages and to raise general awareness, (2) general responses to news media and TV documentary inquiries, (3) intense news media interest where the responsibility to communicate information and hazards rests primarily with staff at CVO, and (4) intense and overwhelming news media interest that requires a multiagency response. This guide reflects general protocols in effect at the time of publication. The information will be modified as conditions change. Although “news media” generally refers to traditional outlets such as TV, radio, and newspapers, the protocols used to engage these traditional outlets apply also when responding to bloggers, online news services, and social media comments.

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