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MEMA using new media tools

PEARL — This year the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is using social networking and micro-blogging tools to reach people with important hurricane preparedness information.

The agency first launched a YouTube page, a Twitter account and Facebook pages several months ago to better serve a growing generation of people who may not get information and news through traditional means.

MEMA director Mike Womack said it is important for his agency to communicate through a variety of media.

“We have to pay attention to the way people are communicating with each other and be a part of that dialogue,” Womack said. “Since the information we release will help people protect themselves and survive a hurricane, we need to be accessible to the public and send messages in as many different ways as we can.”

MEMA has posted public service announcements about hurricane and tornado preparedness on YouTube featuring Gov. Haley Barbour and former New Orleans Saints running back and Mississippian Deuce McAllister. MEMA said preparedness messages from each of these public figures have been viewed more than 1,200 times. The public service messages are available at www.msema.org.

MEMA reports it has more than 400 followers on Twitter and the number is growing gradually. The public can follow updates and receive tips from MEMA by following the username MSEMA or by visiting twitter.com/msema.

“Both the public and the news outlets want and need updates as they’re available, and we are trying to provide this service,” Womack said. “We hope to use Twitter during hurricanes and other emergencies so people can get updates on the phones, especially if they are traveling because of an evacuation.”

MEMA also posts hurricane awareness information through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Facebook group and Facebook fan page. People can also become Facebook fans of the agency and receive update messages about hurricane preparedness. The social networking group provides a space for people to follow happenings at MEMA and get information about the agency and what it does.

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