Communications Guidance

Photo of 2 firefighters on a smoky road with mobile equipment

This guidance is intended to help the NWCG Executive Board, staff, committees, and subgroups make communications decisions and ensure consistent and standardized NWCG communications practices.

Getting Started

Determine necessity, content, and purpose of the proposed message. The content and purpose of the message will determine the most appropriate format and distribution methods. Consider the following for each message:

  • Audience:  Identify the target audience for the information.
  • Sensitivity:  Define and adequately address concerns such as time, budget, or political constraints.  Messages with budgetary and political impacts require more engagement with the Executive Board.
  • Impacts:  Identify potential impacts on other stakeholders to resolve conflicts beforehand.
  • Future Access:  Determine a stable location for long term access to the information and direct the reader to that location.
  • Lifespan:  Ensure the content makes the message’s lifespan or timeline clear.  Consider the need to rescind, update, expire, or archive messages or products.

The chart below displays steps in the process NWCG staff uses to determine format and distribution. Coordinators will work closely with proposing and impacted parties to determine the appropriate source and method of distribution.

Chart to display the process NWCG staff uses to determine format and distribution

Common Messages and Likely Format

Templates

NWCG has created templates to assist committees and staff in communications and to provide consistency in the layout and structure of the information being presented. These templates are located at https://www.nwcg.gov/correspondence-templates.  

Memorandums

Memos provide a decision or request an action or assistance. Memos may be issued by the Executive Board or by NWCG committees. All Executive Board memos are sent via MailChimp seven days after the initial release of the memo.

Common Messages

  • Communicate a decision
  • Provide guidance to and request action from a committee
  • Establish a standard
  • Make an announcement

Tasking Memorandums

Direction to accomplish specific, time-bound NWCG tasks is conducted via tasking memos which are typically sent between committees or from the Executive Board to committees. This is direction to focus on an assignment that may not otherwise be accomplished in the requested timeframe.

Common Messages

  • Deliver an assignment to an existing or ad hoc group

Briefing Papers

Briefing papers provide information or request an action or decision. They are commonly used by committees and staff to brief the Executive Board.

Letters

Information, recognition, and acknowledgement of outside entities is done directly to a recipient through a formal letter.

Common Messages

  • Reply to a request from an external party
  • Request action from an external party
  • Express appreciation for service or support to NWCG

Common Informal Messages

Informal messages do not necessitate a formal template. They are likely to be distributed to a broad audience via MailChimp and/or social media.

  • Release or revise an NWCG standard (e.g., publication or training material)
  • Request feedback or input (e.g., call for comment)
  • Provide guidance (e.g., equipment bulletin)
  • Announce stakeholder or partner activities, events, or information (e.g., FEMA)
  • Correct information or alleviate confusion (e.g., minor errors or updates)

Distribution Methods

Templates are the formal means for preparing a message. MailChimp and social media are used to distribute the same message, as appropriate, to a wider audience or to broadly share a less formal announcement.

Executive Secretary Email

Particularly on the behalf of the Executive Board, correspondence may be sent directly from the NWCG Executive Secretary via email when appropriate to the audience.

MailChimp

NWCG uses the mail distribution service MailChimp as a means for wide-distribution of memos, requests for input, announcements, and other updates with the intended audience. These emails typically direct the recipient to a permanent source for further information. (Sign up for MailChimp and view previous mailings from the NWCG homepage, https://www.nwcg.gov).

Groups

To facilitate distribution of information to the intended audience, groups have been set up to which interested parties can subscribe. The lists are driven by functionality and subject area. Any or all of the groups may be selected when sending an email.

  • Aviation
  • Coordination and Dispatch
  • Data Management
  • Fire Environment (Weather/Behavior/Danger)
  • Fuels, RX, Fire Planning, and Smoke
  • Risk Management and Safety
  • Incident Business
  • Training and Qualifications
  • Logistics and Equipment
  • Mitigation, Education, Prevention, and Investigation
  • Data Management (Standards/Glossary/Fire Reporting/Geospatial)
  • NIMS
  • Command
  • Plans
  • Operations

Social Media

NWCG maintains official social media sites for less formal communications. Social media will also be used for notification of formal communications by directing followers to a permanent source for further information. NWCG staff will follow internal standard operating procedures for the use of official social media.

Official NWCG Social Media Sites

DHS-FEMA-US Fire Administration

NWCG may contribute to the following:

  • EMR-ISAC Weekly InfoGram:  The U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) Emergency Management and Response – Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) InfoGram, produced weekly, typically includes four short articles about the protection of the critical infrastructures of communities and their emergency responders. The topics are categorized as Responder Safety, Fire Prevention/Mitigation, Fire Education, and General Response.
  • HSIN-ES Info Sharing: The Homeland Security Information Network – Emergency Services (HSIN-ES) is updated daily to provide all-hazard – all-threat information sharing as well as information announcements, alerts and advisories for the leadership of the Emergency Services Sector.

Process for submitting NWCG contributions.

Direct Distribution

Informal means of communication and group-to-group correspondence may be sent directly from one individual to the recipients when appropriate. 

External Media Communications

Follow agency or employer direction regarding communications or requests for interviews with outside entities and media outlets.  Involvement of the appropriate NWCG Coordinator is also encouraged.  

Any press releases sent on behalf of NWCG by agency external affairs should be coordinated with NWCG staff and relevant committee or subgroup members following distribution of information by the Executive Board.

Contact

For questions, contact the NWCG staff member corresponding to your committee or the subject matter, or submit a request via the NWCG website at https://www.nwcg.gov/contact.

 

 

Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
2019-06-26