To ensure that a state employee knowledgeable in oil spills is available to assist in public relations during a spill response, public relations staff in the communications office should participate in spill drills. The spill office should also develop protocols to ensure that key information, such as the role of volunteers, is disseminated to the public early in a spill response.
In the January 2010 response to the bureau, the spill office described its multi-phase approach to creating a strong Public Information Officer (PIO) team. To date, the spill office has filled its vacant PIO position, and augmented its management staff by hiring an individual with an extensive public affairs and emergency response background. Assistant Information Officer positions have been created under the Incident Command System (ICS) used as the management framework for emergency response. Additional staff have been designated to fulfill the assistant roles, and they have completed multiple trainings including press release writing, media relations, social marketing, and Coast Guard Strike Team public affairs. One of the assistants has also been certified bi-lingual in Spanish. The assistants have been attending drills with the lead PIOs to enhance their knowledge and further develop their skills. Future crisis trainings have also been scheduled. An operations agreement has been implemented between the spill office and Fish and Game's Office of Communication Education and Outreach (OCEO) for additional support and reserve staff for spill response. Individuals from OCEO have attended drills and training, the most recent of which was completed October 27, 2010. The CalSpillWatch page, designated for oil spill emergency response communications, has been launched and is live with 15 spill office staff trained in its use for posting information (across the ICS organization system-PIO, Liaison, Planning, Operations). Additional development continues. Following Fish and Game standard operating procedure, the social network has been established and the spill office now shares media distribution lists with OCEO so that the spill office PIOs can distribute information while in the field more quickly, and at any time of day or night. (See 2010-041 p. 114)
Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.