Three steps to communicating more effectively about COVID-19
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus previously known as 2019-nCoV. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness ranging from the common cold, to a more serious lung infections like pneumonia. In late 2019, a new coronavirus strain was identified in Wuhan, China. This virus now spreads from humans to other humans. The disease caused by this virus is called COVID-19, and its symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
The three steps in this post can be implemented in five to ten minutes by almost anyone in your organisation. Accurate facts and reliable information are vital during a public health crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak. Individuals need to know how to protect themselves and how to minimise the spread of the disease, and they need to trust their sources of information. The COVID-19 outbreak also has serious economic and social effects, which can be managed more effectively when people have access to accurate and reliable information. Workplaces, schools, and organisations of all sizes need to communicate effectively so that people know what to do and how to do it.
Step one: communicate accurately
Yes, it matters what we call the disease and what we call the virus. Yes, it matters that we explain how to use a mask or how to wash our hands. In a public health crisis, being accurate is of utmost importance. It also shows our audiences that we can be trusted. Getting facts right is a basic responsibility.
Step two: be fair and responsible
Any exploitation of people’s fears or beliefs, or discrimination against any group, has no place in public health communication. The World Health Organisation’s naming guidelines for viruses specifically state that names should not cause places or people to feel marginalised, and reports of discrimination and prejudice from around the world are disturbing. Managing a virus outbreak is also about managing fear and misinformation, so fact-check every piece of communication. Every individual is responsible for this.
Step three: use credible and reliable sources
Ensure that the sources you’re using are credible and reliable. In Singapore, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Manpower websites are filled with up-to-date information that can be used by individuals and organisations, and content that’s ready for you to print, download, or share. The World Health Organisation has also provided a set of resources for education and awareness. A lot of experts have worked very hard to develop credible resources for us, so let’s use them.
The COVID-19 outbreak is an evolving situation. Please check with your national health authority for the most updated information about the outbreak. The outbreak has caused disruption to people around the world. If you are anxious or stressed about the effect of COVID-19 on yourself, your health, and your work, please talk to someone who is trained to help. There are many ways to help yourself feel better in a healthy and productive way. If you would like to find out how to get help, we’re here for you, so get in touch with us.
If you are a freelance creative or adult education professional in Singapore affected by COVID-19, Quantico CCIL is offering subsidised support packages and free copywriting coaching. As part of Quantico CCIL’s initiatives to prevent the spread of COVID-19, our copywriting, content marketing and branded storytelling workshops are now offered fully online. You will the same support, rigour, and interactivity as an in-person workshop, and will be able to progress at your own pace. Subsidies for all workshops are offered for those who need them.