The success of pollution response hinges on public perception. If the community and stakeholders perceive a response as successful, it is deemed successful. The challenge for spill responders, then, is managing perception, ideally through a robust campaign to convey the response “story” in a way that gives the public a clear view of the response work. The “Response V” is a concept that provides the structure upon which such a campaign can be built. Starting with standard ICS framework, it is comprised of two essential elements for success – operational excellence on one side of the “V” and outstanding perception management on the other. Responders do well on the Operational side, with years of experience using proven methods, combined with systems that seek better ways to perform. The other side of “V” has not yet been fully developed during spill response. The need for information has changed within recent years, as have distribution channels, to a breadth and pace that often far exceeds current response organizations' ability to meet demands. Federal On-Scene Coordinators, as well as their Unified Command (UC) partners, face stronger pressures to grasp a situation within minutes and report it up their chain of command, taking time away from their focus on response. Complimentary is the pressure to gather accurate incident information and convey it to the public. If response managers do not start communicating immediately, others will, and likely with inaccurate and lasting misperceptions. During an incident, the responsibility for perception management lies primarily with the Joint Information Center (JIC). Part of the “Response V” concept promotes a number of elements to expand the current JIC model, including: clear, established relationships with Liaison Officer staff; creation of a Public Volunteer Officer to liaise with the Volunteer Unit; creation of a Public Opinions Officer to ensure external perspectives are monitored and conveyed to the UC. Other elements of the “Response V” JIC expansion include:
Phone banks with trained staff to quickly answer questions with accurate information.
Teams of trained people continually communicating through social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) with accurate, credible information.
Field teams to videotape and narrate response activities, streaming them to a UC-approved website.
Information centers for the public to get “hands on” incident information.
Fully integrated teams of JIC and Liaison staff to manage VIPs, community meetings and outreach.