Calabarzon LGUs trained on social media for disaster communication
TAGAYTAY CITY, Philippines — As PAG-ASA declared the end of El Nino, local government units (LGUs) from Region 4A braced themselves for the rainy season by learning how new technology can be used to improve disaster communication.
Officials from the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (CALABARZON), were taught how to integrate social media in their disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) initiatives during the Agos-eBayanihan social media seminar conducted by Rappler in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government IV-A (DILG IV-A) on Friday, June 24 at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay City.
These provinces are some of the most disaster-prone areas in Luzon, suffering the brunt of past disasters like Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009 and Typhoon Lando (Koppu) in 2015. Damages usually reach the millions every disaster and in the case of Ondoy, an outbreak of various diseases happened due to flooding.
‘A new perspective’
Aside from the usual disaster communication methods such as phone calls and two-way radios, the seminar introduced social media as a way to better communicate disaster preparedness, relief, and response.
Rappler’s Research and Content Head Gemma Mendoza talked about the value of using Agos-eBayanihan during disasters.
By using Twitter’s location feature, a resident in need can tweet their concerns and an officer-in-charge will be able to locate them and send help.
“It would complement our monitoring system, because this is direct interaction with the public,” said Richard Quion, a DRRM officer from Bacoor, Cavite.
“Our response for the community will become faster,” he added.
He also believed that although their disaster response system is already efficient enough during disasters, the Agos-eBayanihan platform is a welcome addition to their disaster communication methods.
Giving a face to the story
Content-wise, the seminar also trained officials to take a step from the usual informative posts and add creativity to better engage their audience. Rappler reporter David Lozada encouraged officials to engage their constituents online through storytelling.
“It is important to give your story a face,” expressed Lozada as he explained the process of storytelling.
He said this technique makes LGUs more relatable to their constituents and allows them to establish a connection.
Lozada added that stories should also provide context and the bigger picture, and it should always answer the question, “So what?Why is this relevant to your readers?"
The seminar taught officials how to engage with their communities through their social media accounts.
"Social media is one of the vital factors in reaching people and helping people in the easiest way," Maria Elizabeth Yumul of the Rizal Provincial DRRM Office said of the training.
Through the use of infographics, animated GIFs, polls, and other means, the official social media accounts of LGUs can become more interactive and "people-friendly," Social Media Manager Paige Occenola noted.
“Enagage your audience. You need to talk to them and get them to engage with you because that's how you become relevant to them," she said.
The seminar was conducted in the hopes of helping the LGUs improve their disaster response capabilities, and create better content for their social media accounts.
Agos-eBayanihan is a collaborative platform that combines top-down government action with bottom up civic engagement to help communities mitigate risks and deal with climate change and natural hazards. – Rappler.com
Pam Peregrino is a Journalism student from the University of Santo Tomas. Pocholo Espina is a Health Sciences student from the Ateneo de Manila University. Both of them are Rappler interns.