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Daily fire updates Calm Public

Careful planning has averted hysteria in the press as fires started across Wyoming this summer. Wyoming's Crisis Communication plan, that includes co-ordination with federal agencies, was once again utilized this past summer.

Dave Troyanek, Communications Specialist at the Division of Tourism issued a daily report not only to the press but to anyone in the industry interested in receiving it. The report was posted daily on www.wyomingtourism.org .Troyanek keeps his cell phone at his side 24/7 all summer and covered regular updates from the National Park Service and the National Interagency Fire Center.

The federal government agencies have also done an excellent job at providing quick, accurate information that Troyanek can use to compile regular reports. When localized fires flared up, local chambers of commerce also helped disseminate information. For example, when the East Gate into Yellowstone was closed due to fires, the Park County Visitors Council and the Cody Chamber of Commerce kept emphasizing that there were alternative routes into Yellowstone from that direction. Those constant news releases, in coordination with the Division of Tourism's releases, helped prevent a total reversal of visitor traffic from northern Wyoming.

One of the first rules of crisis communication is honesty and accuracy. When there is a fire the news must go out. But a constant, daily reliable stream of news reports gives the press a sense of confidence that they know what is going on. Then, the reports are put in perspective and are not on the front page every day. Early this summer, before the reports began, one local Wyoming newspaper had a front page headline stating “Wyoming Wildfires Lay Waste.” Once the regular reports started, there was a daily update back on page 3 or 4.

Thanks to everyone involved in doing a good job providing accurate information on fires this summer.

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