The best examples of best practices often come from real life. Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) showed the rest of us strong best practices when they issued the shelter-in-place order last week. MEMA used the new broadcast cell system, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), to help spread the word. That's exactly the type of event, an imminent threat, WEA was intended for.
But, MEMA took the WEA message further. They clearly showed us how WEA can work with other media. As they issued the shelter-in-place alert via WEA, they also sent an advisory in advance to media to make sure media knew that WEA was about to be used. It's possible this was the first time some people in the media had heard of WEA (formerly Commercial Mobile Alert System).
WEA messages really start people talking because of their unique appearance, sound, and vibration and because most people don't know who's sending them, since they didn't have to sign up. Because of the MEMA media advisory, local media could help the public understand who was sending these unusual messages to their cell phones, and why.
Then, MEMA Tweeted to its followers that the WEA alert was issued. The Tweet was then re-tweeted, some people referring to WEA as a "phone siren". (See earlier post here.)
As a former broadcaster, I guess I can see how some broadcast media could consider WEA a competitive system, since it uses the cell network which can compete with broadcasters for the public's attention. But, in this situation, it's not hard to see how broadcast and cell work together, even compliment one another. The WEA alerts serve as a "phone siren", as the Tweeters have started calling it, and get people's attention. Then, people are told to go to local media for more information. (More on this later.)
Meantime, at the risk of getting too personal here, I must say that MEMA use of WEA and its media advisories is another example of why I feel like my son, whose office is across the street from one of the bomb sites, is in good hands up there. Throughout the situation local, state, and federal authorities directly involved have set good examples for us all...and I'm very thankful.
All the best,