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In the everyday work of public health, alerting the public to health risks can be challenging. We’re competing to grab the public's attention in a universe of information, hoping to evoke enough concern that people will adopt healthy behaviors.

During crisis events, this all changes. Suddenly, health communicators have everyone’s attention. Many people are ready to spring into action, but for others, emotion is so high that they are unable to cope.

The challenge is no longer garnering the attention of the public. It’s how to convey accurate information that propels people to make rational decisions and take necessary actions to keep themselves safe, without feeding public fear, denial, hostility, or unrealistic expectations. In this section, we’ll take up that challenge by addressing the cornerstones for communicating during a crisis:

  • Get past the outrage
  • Balance accuracy & timeliness
  • Build trust & credibility
  • Stay consistent