Effective Media Communication During Public Health Emergencies
The recent outbreak of the corona virus underlines the importance of communication during public health emergencies. Communication challenges are heightened when fear of the pandemic spreads faster than the disease itself. It is vital that people feel that officials are communicating openly and honestly. The most important asset in any large-scale public health emergency is the public; because ultimately, they must take care of themselves. Through effective media communication, public health officials can engage the public and help them to make informed and better decisions.
Effective media communication is a critical element and should play a central role from the start. It establishes public confidence in the ability of an organization or government to deal with an emergency; it builds and maintains trust; it improves knowledge and understanding; guides attitudes, decisions and actions; and encourages collaboration and cooperation. Here is a six-step guide to effective media communication during public health emergencies:
- Step #1: Develop strategies, goals and plans. Develop specific media communication goals and objectives; develop a written media communication plan; and develop a partner and stakeholder strategy.
- Step #2: Train Spokespeople. Train the media communication team and other designated spokespeople; train a public information officer; identify and train a designated lead spokesperson.
- Step #3: Prepare messages. Prepare lists of stakeholders and their concerns; prepare clear and concise messages; and prepare targeted messages.
- Step #4: Identify media outlets and media activities. Identify available media outlets and social media influencers; identify the most effective media outlets who will get your message delivered; identify media (social and traditional) media activities for the first 24-72 hours.
- Step #5: Deliver messages. Deliver clear and timely messages; deliver messages to maintain visibility; and deliver targeted messages.
- Step #6: Evaluate messages and performance. Evaluate message delivery and media coverage; evaluate and improve performance based on feedback; and evaluate public responses to messages.
If implemented effectively, these guidelines for media communication will result in greater understanding of your message and will also result in greater public participation to support the containment of an outbreak. The overriding goal is to bring the outbreak under control as quickly as possible, and effective communication is one tool to achieve that goal.
For more detail and points for preparing and delivering messages contact DynaComm using the link at the top of the homepage, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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