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Jeffrey D. Hickman

Director of Public Affairs
State of Hawaii, Dept. of Defense

Maj. (Ret.) Jeff Hickman served 28 years in the Kansas and Hawaii National Guards and recently retired in May, 2019. He has two deployments, one to Balad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2005 and also to Regional Command South, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom

from 2012-2013 as a Brigade Public Affairs Officer (PAO) and Public Affairs planner. Hickman served as a federal technician in the Hawaii National Guard as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs (2005-2018), then in late 2018, he became the Director of Public Affairs for the State of Hawaii, Department of Defense. In May 2018, the Big Island of Hawaii, experiencing its largest and longest lava flow in recent history, asked for National Guard support in the public affairs realm. Hickman made three trips to Hawaii Island and initiated the media escort plan for over 70 international, national and local media organizations who descended to the town of Pahoa to cover the lava flow. Hickman conducted over 60 media escorts in 37 days on-mission, conducted over 25 interviews, and coordinated over 20 single station stand-ups which assisted Hawaii County accomplish their public information goals during this very unique natural disaster.

Jeffrey D. Hickman’s Session(s):


9:50 am–10:30 am — Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Social Media & Natural Disasters: Media Relationships and Communication Strategy Forged in Hawaii’s Volcanic Eruption

This case study will discuss tips we used to strengthen relationships with the news media while pushing out constant messaging through radio, TV and social media, to communicate accurate information to the public during the prolonged Kilauea Volcano lava eruption event on the Island of Hawaii.  The Hawaii State Emergency Management Agency, and the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency and the Hawaii Department of Defense used this strategy to provide updates, critical aid information, and safety alerts. 

During this discussion you will hear:

  • Examples of the growing pains during the chaotic initial stages of the lava eruption event.
  • What worked and didn't work when trying to collaborate with media to get messaging out.
  • The challenges of keeping up with constant media information requests (and the social media explosion).
  • Fighting misinformation (in media coverage and social media) and getting the right message out, with or without the media's help.

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