PAST Fusion Cell Academy

Learn from the PAST, prepare for the Future

Argonne National Laboratory is home to the PAST, Public Affairs Science and Technology Fusion Cell for Emergency and Risk Communication Management. The deep experience and comprehensive outreach in the Past Fusion Cell yields a training curriculum to the PAST Fusion Cell Academy and provides planning and preparation for exercise simulations to test and refine the skills of public safety, Public Information Officers, Public Affairs Officers and External Affairs Officers. Studies consistently show that public affairs is much more than media relations; by taking a holistic approach to public affairs, our mission…”Learn from the PAST, Prepare for the future.”

About the PAST Fusion Cell Academy

Argonne’s PAST Fusion Cell Academy is a first-of-its‑kind training facility that engages with forward-thinking public affairs professionals and social scientists from across the globe in an effort to improve all aspects of communication as it relates to emergency management. The PAST Fusion Cell Academy provides a natural venue for teams of world‑class social scientists to work alongside public safety professionals to address some of the most significant communication challenges our nation and the world face today. We offer the most advanced training programs for emergency management communication professionals, and everything we do can be customized to meet the specific goals of your organization. From risk and crisis communication planning to the latest in social media methodologies and emerging technologies, you can count on our team to meet your consultation and training needs. Our experienced instructor team is familiar with a wide range of hazards and exercise strategies. By supplying virtual, tabletop, or functional exercise platforms, we support scenario development, news media simulation, planning, evaluation, and follow-up to ensure maximum value for participants. Our instructors collaborate with public affairs practitioners, consult with leading social scientists and research diverse public affairs topic areas. Our research and collaboration present unique opportunities to offer highly effective and well footnoted training for communication professionals.

About Argonne’s facilities

Our on-campus amenities include the Argonne Guest House, which has a full-service restaurant, 156 guest rooms, including two 2-bedroom premiere suites with parlors and ten 4-bedroom suites with parlors. Amenities also include the Bistro 213 work cafe, two coffee shops, and a fitness center. Similar to a university campus, you will experience groups of employees working, talking, and walking together within Argonne’s wooded grounds.

Risk & Crisis Communication

Today more than ever, the ability to effectively communicate risk and crisis information can have a positive effect on your organization’s reputation. Interactions with diverse populations and news media are crucial elements of risk and crisis communication. Targeting the right audience and effectively communicating timely and relevant information calls for applying calculated methodologies and strategies.

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Public Information Technology & Communication

The way in which we receive and digest information has changed drastically in the past decade. Information technology has significantly influenced the way people communicate and the way that emergency information is disseminated, consumed, and monitored. Communication professionals must engage stakeholders using new methods of communication such as social media and mobile applications to effectively get their messages out.

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Social Media Technology & Digital Communication

The evolution of social media represents a paradigm shift in how the world communicates. It has provided new and broad communication platforms that provide opportunities to reach far more people than ever before. Social media has established a robust track record as an invaluable resource for instant and constant communications globally. The use of social media technologies has become the standard for gathering information, disseminating information, and has proven to enhance an agency’s information network efforts on a number of levels.

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News Media Simulation

News media simulation is a crucial element of training and emergency preparedness exercises. Testing public information capabilities by simulating interactions with the news media provides a means to evaluate response in a controlled environment. Scenario-based news stories (including social media) presented by former real-life journalists create the most realistic training environment for communication professionals to practice decision making and improve implementation of response plans.

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Media Relations

The complexity of media relations requires Public Information Officers, Public Affairs Officers, External Affairs Officers, and other public affairs professions to incorporate well thought strategies and practices to be successful. Learning how to shape a news story, influence the public, and provide important information to target audiences are necessary skills public affairs professionals should possess. The art of developing and communicating highly effective key messages on camera are skills that should be consistently practiced and improved upon.

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Public Affairs

When most people think of public affairs, they think media relations. Even among Public Information Officers, Public Affairs Officers, External Affairs Officers, and other emergency management communication professionals training has traditionally been focused on media relations. While media relations is certainly part of the equation, it has been allowed to overshadow other crucial areas of responsibility. Public affairs staff need to be well versed in emergency public information as well as non-emergency duties such as internal communication, event planning, reputation management, risk communication, crisis communication, digital & social media, community education, media relations, and community relations.

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