BY BRIGHT MALOPA
The President addressed the nation on Sunday during which he revealed that K185 million was spent on communication related programs . This is relatively good budget. But why is it that there’s little behavioral change?
The president must press for evaluation and monitoring reports on this From my cursory observations, there are serious flows on how communication has been packaged. It is not strong enough to invoke emotions that can constrict People’s thought process into the path of fear and hope. If people are not afraid of this pandemic, their behavioral pattern will not change.
Covid becomes fatal when a Covid infected person comes into contact with a person in vulnerable group. The strategy to address this is to create 2 characters from which information can be built to protect or save people in the vulnerable groups.
1) a hero
2) a Villain
Every PR Exercise starts with a human being having an aha!! moment. What is our aha! Moment? Is it before or after when we report an infection, stats increase or when we loose a person Heroes Identify the heroes in the Covid fight.
Those in the front line doing their best to save the vulnerable, those who are observing the recommended measures which in the end limits exposure to the vulnerable and those of good will helping out Villain Important for the information to identify the villains in their communication package – those who are responsible for the many deaths we have because their conduct exposed the virus to the vulnerable.
Create strong messages that implies if you don’t mask up or sanitise, it is because you want to kill a person.
The current messages being propagated suggests that the Audience has not been properly casted. The current massages are flat and have only one group. The listener believes the message is intended for someone else not them.
But there are several groups within the Covid community that need specific information;
What to do to avoid contacting and spreading the virus?
What to do when infected?
What to do post Covid-19?
The ultimate goal of this campaign is to make people decide by conduct on whether they want to be a hero or villain of the fight against Covid.
I’m not too sure about the composition of the Covid task force but the content matter in the Covid information suggests to me that we are missing other skills.
Clearly we have public health specialists but the various prescriptions we are getting on which leaves or vegetation to chew tells me we need internal medicine and pulmonologists people to add content as well as social and psychologists to help us deal with the aftermath.
The president talked about recruiting more personnel in the health sector. This is good. The current lot are tired and exhausted. Whilst there maybe risk allowance associated to this, I would recommend that government consider offering risk insurance to all frontline personnel. Many are being exposed in the course of doing their work.
Finally our hopes are pinned on vaccine. There’s alot of negative publicity on the vaccine from religious pussyfoots to naysayers and outright Covid denialists.
The communication strategy should at least devise means to debunk this negativity whilst offering hope for the timelines regarding when the vaccine will be in the country as well as the priority list.
This will help prepare people ahead of what may be considered a matter of life and death.
Whether you are dealing with civil servants or the general public or, Journalist are looking for stories that connects with us “human beings.
President ‘inaugural speech asking the general public and his opponents to give him the benefit of doubt is a good example of a story that brings people together and inspires the same to feel something powerful whenever possible