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Oklahoma PR firm answers the call to help after tornadoes

Brenda Jones Barwick, president of Jones Public Relations Inc., talks about the Moore tornadoes and the need for crisis planning.
Oklahoman Modified: June 21, 2013 at 8:43 am •  Published: June 19, 2013

Q&A with Brenda Jones Barwick

Tornadoes taught valuable crisis management lessons

Q: Your firm voluntarily stepped up as an in-house full-service agency for the city of Moore after the recent tornado. What exactly did you do?

A: The need was so great that when our team walked in the door, they assigned tasks to us before even making the formal introductions. To date, we have volunteered 600 hours to help field national and international media inquiries, assist with daily news conferences with Gov. Mary Fallin, FEMA and first responders; managed official social media sites and; created e-newsletters for 34,000 Moore businesses and residents; created digital billboards that are still in rotation and managed communications efforts at City Hall while President Barack Obama toured the schools and neighborhoods.

Q: How did this come about?

A: Moore is my hometown and my family has known Mayor Glenn Lewis and City Manager Steve Eddy for decades. When Oklahoma City Public Information Officer Kristy Yager called at 10 p.m. asking if we can help the city of Moore, I didn't hesitate in committing all of our agency services to help Moore Director of Marketing and Economic Development Deidre Ebrey, Marketing Specialist Jayme Shelton and the city's agency Trifecta Communications implement their crisis communications efforts. With all hands on deck, our team was able to help the city fulfill a need for highly specialized communications efforts, such as managing calls from The New York Times, BBC, ABC, a China news crew and documentary filmmakers from the U.K.

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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