Accept and involve stakeholders. Health and safety is a community effort and will require every citizen to contribute in some way. Engaging with all stakeholders increases the effort and value of the contribution. Example: The Centers of Disease Control guidance page Get Your Community- and Faith-Based Organizations Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019. Notice it is specifically designed for this community where needed while adhering to the key overall messaging.
Choose a broad range of spokespeople from all walks of life. Government touches everyone’s lives, and choosing people who can speak directly to different groups assures a wider spread of the message.
Example: WHO and FIFA: Pass The Message video
Update regularly and clearly across all channels. Short, simple, accessible and direct messages across multiple formats raises the visibility of the message and limits confusion. Example: The Centers of Disease Control Twitter feed, with clear visuals and informative links posted on a regular basis
Remember that not everyone can work remotely. Working from home simply isn’t possible for some, especially vital services, and they will need support as well. Example: The State of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Guidance and Directives, broken out by individual government departments and industries
Offer resources to adapt quickly. Telework is new to much of the workforce. Clear, easy-to-read materials will assist in the transition. Example: The US General Services Administration’s guidance on remote work
Address infrastructure concerns where possible. Not everyone is equipped to work from home immediately, so collecting resources to get workers up to speed will be crucial. Example: The City of Boston’s guide to internet access for remote workers across the city.
Use graphics, video, and other modes of communication. This spreads the message and sets the proper tone in multiple ways. Example: The County of LA Twitter feed, which uses appropriate images and motion graphics to draw the eye and summarize necessary information in multiple ways.
Multilingualism will be key. Catering to the language of all stakeholders will allow for more effective communication and compliance. Example: The City of New York’s COVID-19 page, with flyers in over twenty languages:
Honesty is the best policy. Direct, clear information that acknowledges basic realities of life will be appreciated and help limit the spread. Example: The Centers for Disease Control’s Environmental and Disinfection Guidelines, which use clear subheadings and tie into available supplies and techniques
Be direct, but calm. Tone of public communications will be particularly important to limit the spread of fear and the downstream problems it causes. Example: The City of Cambridge’s COVID-19 Services page, offering clear concise descriptions of what services are available and the necessary conditions.
Deliver clear instructions. Most organizations are facing unprecedented challenges and will need effective guidance that can followed easily and precisely. Example: The City of Philadelphia’s detailed planning guidance for private businesses and non-profits.
Emphasize planning ahead of time. The more citizens are prepared, the more effective guidance and restrictions will be. Example: The City of Chicago’s COVID-19 page has a “Helpful Resources” section that emphasizes planning ahead.
Bust myths as they appear. Misinformation can spread quickly if it’s not counteracted by authoritative statements. Example: FEMA’s Rumor Control page, which specifically refutes misinformation point by point.
Encourage donations and volunteerism, where possible. While volunteerism can be difficult under social distancing rules, donations and assistance are still possible. Example: The City of Cambridge’s disaster relief fund page
Highlight ways they can help. Encourage visiting local businesses, interacting with communities, and other methods. Example: Mayor Jenny Durkin, of Seattle, patronizing local businesses for take-out and tweeting out her support.