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E388: Advanced Public Information Officer

The National Response Framework (NRF) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) devote significant attention to the importance of emergency public information. As shown in Figure 1, public information is one-third of one-fifth of NIMS under Command and Management, placing public information at the same level as the Incident Command System.

With public information included as a function within NIMS and within ICS, it is critical to address and provide training for this important element of Emergency Management.

The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) Public Information Officer (PIO) training curriculum includes courses delivered at the awareness, basic, intermediate, advanced and master levels. The awareness, basic and intermediate level courses were developed by EMI and are managed by state emergency management trainers who teach basic skills and techniques for use during small, localized, single-agency responses; preparedness campaigns; and escalating localized responses. The advanced level course teaches participants additional skills for use during escalating incidents, including strategic communications and incident action planning as it relates to Joint Information Center (JIC) operations.


The goal of this five-day course is to:

  • Provide participants with the knowledge and skills to establish, manage and work within a JIC through multimedia lectures and individual and group activities.
  • Provide participants the opportunity to apply advanced public information skills during a multi-day functional exercise (FE) designed to test the participants’ abilities to analyze, coordinate, process and create information in a fast-paced, realistic environment.
  • Through a tabletop exercise (TTX), encourage participants to evaluate their processes to help them generate new ideas, products, or ways of viewing challenges or situations.
  • Encourage participants to improve their processes and ensure every action has a measurable relevance for each identified audience, including senior leadership.


At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Relate the exercise scenario to their primary area of responsibility within the functional exercise by verbalizing their primary exercise role during the introductions. (Unit 1)
  • Apply current crisis communications methodologies to community audiences during an incident by completing three table group activities. (Unit 2)
  • Analyze the characteristics of the changing American family and how the media and fear play a role in shaping communication goals and messages by participating in a group discussion and an activity. (Unit 3)
  • Conduct an analysis of their personal and organizational disaster readiness based on current disaster readiness guidance. (Unit 4)
  • Relate the Incident Action Planning (IAP) process to the External Affairs 8-Step Strategic Communications Model by completing a multi-level activity. (Unit 5)
  • Demonstrate the ability to work in a JIC by actively contributing to exercise tasks and products as specified in the exercise objectives through functional exercise play. (Unit 6)
  • Draft an 8-step strategic communication plan for each TTX scenario. (Unit 7)
  • Share lessons learned during a whole class debriefing, and create individual professional development goals based on class experiences. (Unit 8)



  • Establish a Joint Information Center
  • Demonstrate team building skills

Early assessment

  • Demonstrate situational awareness assessment
  • Prioritize communication requirements.

Critical Messaging

  • Working in mass communication environment demonstrate necessary communication skills to provide the right information at the right time to the right audience
  • Demonstrate communication skills in a stressful environment
  • Prepare a simulated government executive for a media interview

Methods of alternative messaging

  • Establish a strategic communications plan for a simulated natural disaster
  • Incorporate limited English proficiency and function needs considerations into strategic into strategic communications planning

Long term messaging

  • Develop a communication strategy to protect and promote agency image
  • Simplify complex messages for identified audiences
  • Analyze and resolve conflicting media information
  • Deconflict and coordinate messages between multiple official sources

Expanding incident staff management

  • Demonstrate ability to work in a joint information center
  • Given a simulated natural disaster, establish external affairs related objectives and tasks for an incident action plan


The target audience for this course is public information personnel who have completed the prerequisites listed in the Prerequisites section below, and/or pre-course knowledge check. The “G” course prerequisites can be waived for those individuals who have extensive experience in public information activities. Written requests for waivers must be submitted to the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) Admissions Office.

Course Prerequisites:

Recommended Prerequisites:

Student comments about the new E/L0388 course

New curriculum was good! Current topics and industry issues. Use of video and IT technology is good! Ongoing scenario drill with news flashes, and expertise of instructors = excellent!

8-Step Model and use of 215 for PIO assignments.

This class was worth ALL/EVERY penny and time I invested into it.

The JIC exercise was most valuable. Being thrown into the situation helped my understanding of the different roles and responsibilities in a JIC. The smaller individual exercises in the classroom were really helpful too.

Format--lecture/exercise/frequent breaks. The experience overall was fantastic. Thank you so much!

Very valuable information excellently presented. It will be taken home and applied. Putting It Into Practice stressed the players and the knowledge level.

Exercise; discussion about traits that work well in JIC was super important. We know the tasks, but many people don't understand group dynamics.

Introduction of new and relevant PIO doctrine. The JIC exercise and utilization of SimDeck. Outstanding instructors. Great balance of experience and platform skills. Re-emphasis of ICS/NIMS and how PIO fits in to actual response.

Crisis Communications Plan; best practices and lessons learned; base communications on objectives; complex audiences. SimDeck is great.

SimDeck was a fantastic tool!! Applied exercise in JIC. Fear-Mongering discussion. Also, I was in the actual EOC I would use in an emergency, which was helpful. Networking. Also, I really liked how personal and family wellness was addressed.

The ability to coordinate, interact, and work with the other agencies was priceless.

Loved the disaster simulation. The exercise component was extremely helpful. I enjoyed the JIC creation process; learned a lot about inter-PIO communication!!

The teamwork, learning strategic communications and incident action planning. Learning to resolve conflicts within the team and ways to move forward. Learned how to be flexible and communicate within teams.

Thinking outside the box. Taught in pre-reqs. This is the only way to do it, when "flexibility" is the key item. Working out of mobile JIC created a real life scenario--was amazing and now I know more assets available to me in an emergency.

It was an eye-opening experience. Having the opportunity to play a part in an operational EOC with colleagues from all over the State and with varied skill levels and personalities in a secure environment was invaluable. Not to mention the very respectful and understanding instructors who managed a balance between instruction and teamwork. Thank you all!

I learned so much. There are things I never even thought to ask about. I am so much more aware. My thought process will be forever changed.

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