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Best Practices for Crisis Communication: Pandemic Communication Outreach

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The rise and spread of COVID-19 has communities, businesses, and medical facilities scrambling to effectively communicate crucial information within their organizations, and to wider audiences such as patients, students, customers, etc. For many organizations this is the first time they’ve had to implement pandemic communication and mass notification practices.

To assist organizations grappling with how to effectively communicate with their community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 911Cellular has developed three best practices for effective pandemic communication…

Develop or follow a strong pandemic communication plan. If your organization has an existing pandemic communication plan, great, follow it! If your pandemic communication plan hasn’t been touched in a few years take the time to review it, update relevant contact information, and remove irrelevant sections or procedures. If your organization doesn’t currently have a pandemic communication plan, now is the time to create one. Below are guiding questions to get you started…

  • What routes of communication are best suited to quickly and effectively inform your community or organization? SMS, email, computer alerts, social media, etc.
  • Who or which team will be tasked with sending out notifications and updates?
  • What sources of information can your team rely upon to be truthful, accurate, and timely? Some good examples include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), local health departments, etc.

Strive to be the first source of pandemic information. Your community will use the speed at which your organization sends relevant pandemic related communication as a marker for your organization’s preparedness. Along the same lines, it’s imperative potential communication overlaps be addressed and minimized. Reach out to other departments or organizations who may also be communicating to your audience. All partners should have clearly defined roles and responsibilities when it comes to pandemic communication. Over messaging, duplicate messaging, and mixed messaging will only result in decreased trust from your community.

“A sincere expression of empathy early in your communication will allow people to settle down the noise in their minds and actually hear what you have to say.”

(Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication by Leaders for Leaders. A CDC document)

Communicate concisely, clearly, and consistently. Craft pandemic communication that distributes relevant information in an easily absorbed and digestible format. Address the fear and anxiety your community is experiencing. Doing so will build rapport and trust, it will also allow your community to settle down the noise in their minds and hear what you have to say. An effective pandemic mass notification should consist of the following…

  • A statement of empathy addressing fears and concerns
  • Detailed and specific steps your organization is taking to address the pandemic
  • How this impacts/protects your community
  • Next steps or plans for future communications
  • How your community can get more information or get into contact with your organization

Be upfront and honest during all pandemic communication outreach efforts by outlining what is currently known and what is still unknown. Lastly, continue to update your community on a regular basis as information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic changes.

Have more questions? We’re here to help! The 911Cellular system has been specifically designed with crisis and pandemic communication in mind. Our Mass Notification System assists you in quickly and effectively sending COVID-19 communications to your community and allows you to directly gather community feedback. For more information, visit our website.

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