CoCo Principles

The basics of communicating about COVID-19.

Global Pandemic, Local Response.

We are all in this together. The virus does not see national borders or skin color. It sees one human species. Our response must be coordinated globally, as one human species.

At the same time, local conditions are different. Your country or community may be hard-hit, or hardly hit. Localize messages for the needs of your neighbors.

Spirit of Solidarity.

The more we can work together, finding ways to help both friends and strangers, working with each other to creatively solve problems, the more we will thrive.

The virus does not see rich or poor, black or white, children or adults. The virus does not care about your religious or political affiliation. We are all in this together.

Tell the Truth.

Previous pandemics show that when communication is clear, consistent, and transparent, it has a great calming effect on the public. When people don't know what's going on, they panic. Tell the truth.

We must also be clear about what we simply don't know (which at this point is a lot). Humans are resilient; we can take bad news. Drown people in the truth.

Channel Anxiety Into Action.

In times of great change, fear and anxiety are natural feelings. Channel this anxiety into action. There are so many ways that all of us can take action: checking in on others, helping healthcare workers, or spreading these positive messages.

The great Paradox of Social Distancing is that it can actually bring us closer together.

Learn How to Learn.

The Coronacrisis will require all of us to learn new skills, to solve problems in new ways, and to get outside our comfort zone.

Make it a habit to pick up new skills -- even if just five minutes a day -- using online learning tools. They'll keep you sharp and useful -- and they'll add to your "skill stack," which will be helpful in the post-Corona world.

Build, Don't Blame.

Channel the urge to blame others -- including politicians and governments -- into positive, constructive action. Previous pandemics show that arguments waste precious time and resources: when we slow down cooperation, we give the virus more time to spread.

Bitching and complaining are two of our greatest enemies: destroy them by refusing to engage. Let the historians decide who to blame. Focus on what you can do: put your head down and GSD.

Solve Problems Creatively.

We're going to be called on to do the difficult, and occasionally the impossible. A helpful attitude you can take is, "We'll figure this out together."

Look for unusual ways to solve problems. Do the best you can with what you have. It's better to get "good enough" and finished, rather than "perfect" and unfinished.

Share your results -- both your failures and your successes -- with others. Knowledge is also a virus, and that's how it spreads.

Good Information is the Best Antivirus.

The virus feeds first on the human brain -- not literally, but by making us anxious and afraid. This causes us to mistrust each other, to act out of self-interest, and to miss the things we could do to help. Meanwhile, the virus keeps spreading.

When we give each other good information -- what we know, what we don’t know, and what we're doing -- it calms their fears. If the information is incomplete, just say so.

The information must be translated for a lay audience (no jargon), at the places where they're consuming content -- from podcasts to Instagram. And it must be communicated in a way that's engaging, helpful, and BRIEF.

Prepare for the Party.

We're going to defeat this virus. The final score will be Humans 20, COVID-19. And when we do, we will have a planetary party like no other.

Right now, we've got a lot of work to do. But plan for the party.