Toward effective government communication strategies in the era of COVID-19

Bernadette Hyland-Wood, John Gardner, Julie Leask, Ullrich Ecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Several countries have successfully reduced their COVID-19 infection rate early, while others have been overwhelmed. The reasons for the differences are complex, but response efficacy has in part depended on the speed and scale of governmental intervention and how communities have received, perceived, and acted on the information provided by governments and other agencies. While there is no ‘one size fits all’ communications strategy to deliver information during a prolonged crisis, in this article, we draw on key findings from scholarship in multiple social science disciplines to highlight some fundamental characteristics of effective governmental crisis communication. We then present ten recommendations for effective communication strategies to engender maximum support and participation. We argue that an effective communication strategy is a two-way process that involves clear messages, delivered via appropriate platforms, tailored for diverse audiences, and shared by trusted people. Ultimately, the long-term success depends on developing and maintaining public trust. We outline how government policymakers can engender widespread public support and participation through increased and ongoing community engagement. We argue that a diversity of community groups must be included in engagement activities. We also highlight the implications of emerging digital technologies in communication and engagement activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalHumanities & Social Sciences Communications
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2021

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