From right to left:Tudor Vlad, Lee Becker, T.L. Sever Voinescu, Adriana Saftoiu and Madalina Botan.

Romanian Workshop Focuses on Importance of Communication in Crises

Speakers from a wide range of experiences emphasized the importance of communication in a crisis situation during two days of discussion at the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest in early May.

"Spokespersons need to know not only about the communication strategies, but also about the content," Dean Remus Pricopie of the National School's College of Communication and Public Relations said in one of the very first sessions of a two-day workshop on crisis communication.

"Communication has to be a part of the management of the organization," Dr. Pricopie added.

Caroline Hurford, senior public information officer at the U.S. World Food Programme, speaking in the final session of the program, said much of that communication effort needs to be directed at journalists.

"It is the education of journalists that really counts when it comes to communication in a crisis."

From left to right: Marcel Lucaciu, David Hazinski and Caroline Hurford.

The workshop, held May 10 and 11, was organized by the Center for Research in Communication at the National School and the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia.

The Cox Center is the international outreach unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Designated speakers at the workshop included a former spokesman for the presidency of Romania and the current head of the country's Emergency Services Administration.

Topics ranged from communication about business interests such as gold mining in Romania to coverage of civil strife and wars around the world.

Prof. David Hazinski from the Grady College at the University of Georgia stressed the importance of video and on the social media in telling stories today.

"Get video," he said. "Whatever it is, get video of it."

Hazinski, in addition to teaching digital and broadcast journalism at Georgia, owns Intelligent Media Consultants LLC, an international media training and consulting company that has launched television stations around the world and is active in crisis communication training both in the U.S. and abroad.

Madalina Botan and other workshop attendees.

More than 50 people attended the workshop, including public relations practitioners from government and other national institutions, professors and students.

Dr. George David of the College of Communication at the National School told the audience that while external communication in a crisis is important, so is internal communication.

"If we fail to communicate with our internal public, we will not solve the crisis," he said.


Cox Center Director Dr. Lee B. Becker and Associate Director Dr. Tudor Vlad told the gathering about their experiences working with Philippines journalists to develop a standard for conflict sensitive journalism in times of war and civil strife.

Journalists have obligations in conflict, "a particular type of crisis," said Dr. Becker in his opening comments on the workshop. He said the work illustrated the importance of journalists understanding the role they play in crisis situations.

Adriana Saftoiu, former spokesperson for the president of Romania, offered advice on working with journalists.

"Whenever I saw that a journalist would write other than what I wanted, I didn't say that the journalist didn't like me," she said. She said instead she tried to re-examine what she had done in communicating with the journalists.

"If you provide targeted information to the media, there is no room for speculation," she added.

Hurford from the World Food Programme focused particularly on the work of her agency in feeding the world's poor.

"There is no greater crisis than world hunger," she told the group in the final session of the workshop. "If we don't realize that, it is at our own peril."