In March 2020, the hustle and bustle on this planet came to a sudden stop as the outbreak of COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. With little to no knowledge of the virus, which was highly contagious, many countries observed lockdowns to curb its spread. The world was in a state of panic and emergency.
In these troubled times, scientists and medical researchers worked countless hours to learn more about the virus. Each passing day brought forth new information about it, but what good is that information when it doesn’t effectively reach the people or isn’t understood by them.
Relaying these findings to the public is very important, as it is necessary to educate them to prevent mismanagement. For effective communication, we must understand the limitations involved in communication at such a massive level.
- Mediums: With such a large target audience, it becomes difficult to run a social campaign like this on all sorts of mediums. On the one hand, it is a costly affair. Furthermore, not every person uses the chosen mediums.
- Technical information: Scientific findings mean that a lot of jargon goes into those discoveries, and expecting a common person with no medical info to understand those findings will be a nightmare with heavy technical terms.
The public health sector is responsible for working around these limits to form effective policies to curb the spread of these microbes while also educating the public. In a time of emergency like this, many reforms are required to tackle this issue, and skilled individuals in this sector can make all the difference. You can become one by applying for an online masters in epidemiology no GRE requirements. You can work and study without the hassle of preparing for entrance exams and make yourself capable of facing this emergency head-on while observing social distancing.
Different countries faced different scenarios, and the governments of each country displayed different strategies to tackle this lack of knowledge. Let’s look at a few tactics that they took to communicate the findings effectively:
- Caller Tune:Nearly every person in the world uses a network to call and connect with their friends and loved ones. Instead of the ringing tone or music that plays when waiting for the other person to receive the call, messages of caution and advice of public SOPs were played to instill the sense of safety needed in these unfortunate times. In India, a unique spin was given to this strategy, where instead of two rings, they replaced it with two coughs.
- TV Commercials:Most of the population in the world already has access to a television. Commercials with influential people preaching caution were aired to have a greater effect on the population. People tend to base their lives around trends that these celebrities create, and what they say has a lot of impact on how things are done.
- Radio Commercials:Even though not many people listen to radio stations now (except in cars), preventative and cautionary measures were constantly aired to remind people of the imminent threat of the virus.
The pandemic has changed the world’s situation, and with everyone cooped up at home (all with different situations), mental health issues are bound to rise. It’s important to think of sensitive and wholesome campaigns that effectively communicate and resonate with people.
Via these well-thought-out campaigns, information about the virus is available to all in a simple, understandable form. Many governments have also made information available on their websites for everyone to read. With so much information available, the common person can also make informed decisions about his life during the pandemic.
Social media is a free flow of both information and misinformation. Since most of us like to stay updated with the commonly used social platforms, falling prey to misinformation is very easy. Any rumor or myth surrounding the virus can easily come into circulation, creating a lot of skepticism and mistrust. People stop taking things as they are and ignore the recommended safety measures to favor the myth they’ve read on social media.
Not only is this counter-productive to all the campaigns thought out by the government, but it can also be dangerous for life in the public. A lot of information is coming forward every day, but nothing can be believed without any authentication. Lots of wrong practices can be preferred, which can ultimately cause harm to the decorum maintained in this pandemic.
- Tackling Misinformation
All the campaigns are effective tools of communication. However, to ensure that authentic information reaches your audience, it’s important to bring health care workers to the front. They are the ones who can ‘tone down’ all the technical terminologies and make it simpler to understand. It’s their research that is being used to help millions. Programs should frequently include doctors to bring in their useful insights on COVID protocols and all the good habits that you can adopt to keep your immunity strong while staying isolated. Podcasts and radio shows should also follow similar patterns to maximize effectiveness.
In short, our survival is solely linked to effective communication. With the right information at our disposal, we can make the right decisions about what to do. Many healthy lifestyle changes can be influenced, and public life can slowly come back with safety measures devised after lots of research. Make sure that you obtain information from reliable sources, and don’t believe every bit of news circulating on social media. We are all facing this together, and by following the recommended practices collectively, we can remain safe and come out of this stronger.