Rules for Successful Crisis Communications

Successful communication, especially in a crisis, requires…

•    Implementing media and public communication plans as early as possible (e.g., when enough is known to help prevent additional cases);
•    Verifying information and findings and acknowledging that initial recommendations may change. It's important to be first, or nearly first, with information and recommendations, but it's essential that the first set of messages be credible and trustworthy;
•    Expressing empathy early and often—illnesses and diseases affect people personally, and sometimes tragically;
•    Increasing message visibility and credibility through partners and multiple channels (e.g., Web site pages in various languages, toll-free information lines, partner networks);
•    Identifying the correct spokespersons/experts and making them accessible to the news media via multiple channels, including background briefings that can foster in-depth understanding of public health systems and actions;
•    Giving people things they can do to give them a sense of control and help them stay tuned to what is happening;
•    Monitoring blogs—their influential role cannot longer be ignored.

This excerpt is from an article written by Glen Nowak, director of media relations for CDC and Arleen Porcell-Pharr, public affairs specialist for CDC, for the PR News Crisis Management Guidebook.

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