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OC 2 Operationalizing the Outbreak Communications Guidelines.

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Presentation on theme: "OC 2 Operationalizing the Outbreak Communications Guidelines."— Presentation transcript:

1 OC 2 Operationalizing the Outbreak Communications Guidelines

2 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines Adopted in Sept 2004 and issued in early 2005 After a long consultative process First time WHO had provided formal advice on outbreak communications to member states

3 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines Five key principles –Trust –Transparency –First announcement –Listening –Planning

4 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines Trust is the public perception in you: Motives Honesty Competence

5 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines First Announcement –Trust will be based on the announcement’s timing, candor, and completeness –Caution: Initial information can be incomplete or wrong –Key: Overcome the natural tendency to want to withhold if you don’t have all the facts, or if it may put you in a bad light –Follow-up with regular briefings

6 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines Transparency –Transparency should be the rule –Reasons for not being transparent should be clearly articulated and option explored –Even if full transparency is not possible at the moment, detailed records should be kept for post- crisis accountability

7 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines What should be said: –Don’t over-reassure –Acknowledge uncertainty –Share dilemmas (PI’s/AI’s “unknowns”) –Don’t over-plan for panic –Tolerate early over-reactions –Don’t lie or tell half-truths -- Peter Sandman “Recommendations for Crisis Communications”

8 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines Listening (Comms surveillance) –The one-way risk communication model has now been replaced by a dialogue. –Trust cannot be maintained, if we don’t know what the public is hearing, thinking and feeling, and responding to their concerns.

9 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines WHO’s “Listening” for Pandemic Influenza –Started in March 2006 –Expanded to Spanish after July 2006 –First daily basis, then twice weekly, now weekly –Contingent on the amount of attention the world was paying to the issue

10 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines What did we learn by listening? –Most journalists didn’t understand –Blogs were myriad but who read them> –If we worked hard enough on getting out simple, clear messages, we could correct the misconceptions –Clear pattern of surge in interest/media coverage with each “new" event –Panic, over-reaction, then return to the middle-ground

11 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines Added benefits of the listening exercise: –First efforts to build a network to and through whom we could distribute common messages –Other organizations/spokespeople/ communicators could adopt identical messages

12 The Outbreak Communications Guidelines Planning –Before the crisis, designated outbreak team leaders (likely a “technical” person) need the endorsement from senior management and political leaders on: The goal of trust First announcements Necessity of transparency Who will be the spokesperson

13 Thank you Gregory Härtl Communications Team, Health Security and the Environment World Health Organizations, Geneva Tel. direct:


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