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[COVID-19 POLL] How Have You Communicated With Your Community?

Misinformation surrounding COVID-19 seems to be spreading much like the virus. As a government communicator, it’s your job to filter through the noise, stay up to date, and provide the information your community needs to stay safe. And with limited resources too.

Granicus recently hosted an educational webinar with pro communicators from the City of Berkeley and more on best practices for responding to COVID-19. It was attended by 500+ government communicators from across the country.

During the webinar (you can watch the it now), we polled attendees on their sense of preparedness, how they were communicating, and whether they had a formal communications playbook to help with their response.

How Prepared Do You Feel for COVID-19?

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Are you ready? The good news is that 89% of respondents felt “somewhat prepared” or better. Even with preparations in place, it’s natural to feel uneasy when a crisis pops up unexpectedly and information is constantly changing. Take comfort in that you are not alone. This is a great time to turn to your colleagues to learn from and help each other. Sometimes “somewhat prepared” is as good as it gets.

How Have You Communicated With Your Community?

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Attendees said that they are communicating across multiple methods and platforms. That’s more great news. By connecting with different audience members on the channels they prefer (called omnichannel communication), you are more likely to reach your entire audience. This strategy is recommended by the CDC, which provides guidance that you should, “use a variety of communication channels to distribute audience-specific health messages and materials.”

Nearly 20% of attendees said they had not yet communicated with their community about COVID-19. That may be because they hadn’t yet been impacted by the virus, so hadn’t felt a sense of urgency. If you’re hesitant because you don’t want to create panic, remember that it is better to overcommunicate facts than to not communicate with your community at all. Share messaging from trusted resources like the CDC and your state or local health department.

[RELATED BLOG: How Gov Agencies Are Battling the COVID-19 Infodemic]

Do You Have an Emergency Comms Playbook?

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Most government communicators have experience managing emergency correspondence about power outages and natural disasters in their area, but a public health crisis is a rarer occurrence. While half of attendees reported either having a playbook or working on one, the other half of attendees shared that they did not have an emergency communications playbook to rely on for their COVID-19 response. For that second half, here’s a valuable resource from the CDC with guidance for public health communicators.

Bringing It All Together

You may feel overwhelmed. Take a breath. Relax. Connect with your neighboring communicators, introduce yourself, and see what you may be able to learn from one another. Keep track of what works, what doesn’t, and be prepared to adjust. Lastly, accept that it is okay to be a little uneasy. It means you care about doing a good job when it counts.

Want to keep learning about COVID-19 crisis communications?

Watch the free webinar, “Communicating During a Public Health Crisis.”

Looking for more help?

At Granicus, we’re partnering with governments across all levels with tools and digital services to help inform, educate, and keep residents safe. Contact us >>