A guide for the media on communicating in public health emergencies

A public health crisis or emergency is characterised by its ability to cause ill health and death among hundreds, thousands or sometimes millions of people.

In a health crisis, the media has the power to save lives.

Effective communication can help to prevent or reduce the spread of disease, and guide those affected towards health
services and treatment.

This manual provides tips for media practitioners on how to help audiences during health emergencies. It can be read in conjunction with BBC Media Action’s Lifeline Production Manual (available online) which provides more general guidance on how to communicate with people affected by humanitarian crises in order to help save lives and reduce suffering.1

Public health emergencies can start quickly or very slowly. This manual will address those that start relatively quickly: rapid onset public health emergencies.

Writing about COVID-19

As well as building up a resource of information and analysis on COVID-19, we want to ensure that we pass on any tips about what can go wrong when writing about this subject: and how to get it right! If you have experience in writing about this area and feel you have advice that would help others, please contact us at: covid19editor@wfsj-briefing.org.

We’d also like to hear from you at that address if you would like to regularly contribute links to the site. If you just want to suggest links on an occasional basis, please send them to: covid19@wfsj-briefing.org.