You often read in this space about crisis communication.
Together, we are heading straight toward a crisis. Communication is needed right away, no matter who you are or what you do, as long as you believe in the scientific advancement in the vaccines that lead to near-complete immunity from COVID-19.
The numbers, as usual, don’t lie. It’s just about halftime and the anti-vaxxers are gaining on the rational thinkers. The “vaccine hesitant,” if they join the wrong team, will put the conspiracy theorists over the top in the second half and keep us in pandemic mode, maybe… forever?
You should be feeling urgency about this. I’ve been thinking about it since doing this live talk radio interview on Thursday, where I said this communication effort is going to have to be both broad and deep. 30-second public service announcements won’t get it done. So here’s how you can help:
-If you’re planning to post on social media about your vaccination, please don’t focus on your side effects. Maybe text that to friends and family, like you would if you had a bad cold? Without even realizing it, you’re giving reason to those in your network to not get vaccinated. They see a lot more about people they know complaining of one day of fever and chills than they do about the thousands who are hospitalized, clinging to life, today. There has been more online about side effects than about the effects of COVID itself otherwise (part of that is a stigma from early in the pandemic that must be erased).
-Many of the readers of this blog are professional communicators. For you, consider what you can do, for your clients or your company, to help in this effort. You have powerful platforms that you can influence.
-We also have many readers who are established personalities in media. You are trusted, valued, and even admired by your audience. Please think about how to tell them about your vaccination experience. You can have a real impact on your community and our society simple by getting a little personal. Your employer, if it really “cares” like all outlets purport to, should support you in this.
-If you are in a position to speak to this in a public forum, stop using health care buzzwords that mean nothing in real life, like “herd immunity.” Instead, speak clearly and personally, and a human and emotional level, about how unless nearly everyone gets vaccinated we can’t get schools consistently back to face-to-face learning and get concerts and events like weddings scheduled again.
If you personally know people who believed it when Rush Limbaugh said that “the coronavirus is the common cold” and still do or refer to a pandemic that has killed millions of people as a “fake plandemic,” there’s probably nothing you can do for them. But for those are are simply undecided and for whom rational arguments aren’t working, it’s time to meet them on an emotional level. You want this pandemic to wane, damn it. They do too. They need to do their part, as you did when you chose to get vaccinated.