Using Consistent Messages for CDEM
This page provides information about using Consistent Messages
The better you know your community and its population demographics and profile, the better you can identify which communities need specifically targeted messages, and how to provide information that is accessible to them.
For example, if you are communicating to people who predominantly rent their dwelling, focus on risk reduction actions renters can do themselves, not ones that can only be done by home-owners.
If time or space is limited, evaluate your audience and the chosen topic to determine the most important messages. For emergencies that can occur with little or no warning, such as local source tsunami, the immediate response actions are generally most important. For emergencies with plenty of warning time, such as storms, risk reduction and readiness messages may be most important.
Understanding the past helps us plan for the future. At the community level, past hazard events (particularly those that have occurred in the local area) can inform and influence decisions on preparedness. This understanding can come from living memory or oral and written histories.
Annual research into the effectiveness of public education campaigns tells us that people are more likely to be prompted into preparedness by actual events (e.g. floods, earthquakes occurring) than by advertising alone.
If possible, support information and communication about risk reduction and readiness activities by including messages or stories about events that have occurred in the local area.
This content is provided courtesy of The Workshop.
Myth-busting is when we repeat incorrect information, say it is untrue and then give the accurate information.
However, repeating misinformation brings it to people’s attention and can embed it. An example is the phrase “don’t think of an elephant” – what did it make you think of, despite the advice? People may inadvertently end up attributing this incorrect information to a trusted source.
Further information on dealing with COVID-19 misinformation is available on The Workshop website. While specific to COVID-19, this page provides useful tips and alternative strategies that can be applied to other situations.
An emergency response triggers many different emotions for everyone involved. Our audiences trust us, but they are also human beings who may be anxious, scared or uncertain. Showing that you understand their feelings will help to build empathy and ensure your communications have the most impact.
It can be useful to begin by acknowledging the feelings of your audience, and indicating that you understand and share those feelings – after all, you are all part of the same community, you are all in this together, you will help each other out and get through this. Clarity is kindness: be up front about what the situation is, and realistic about what will come next.
All people must be treated without discrimination. This means that everyone, including disabled people, must have access to information and services on the same basis as others.
Accessible information and communications are provided in formats and languages that disabled people can access independently, without relying on other people, and is compatible with assistive technology, such as computer screen readers (known as alternate formats). Essentially, it’s free of barriers.
Information and communications include any printed or online information in pamphlets, brochures, websites, online applications, forms, or ways that people access and engage with information and services.
Further information on what accessibility is, why accessibility is important, and how you can make information and communications accessible for disabled people, is available in the Accessibility Guide on the Ministry of Social Development website.
The Ministry of Social Development is responsible for coordinating all-of-government’s management of alternate formats – Easy Read, New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), braille, audio and large print. It is also responsible for coordinating advice on creating accessible information.
Members of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities are people who do not speak English or Te Reo Māori as their primary language, or who are raised in a different culture from the predominant one where they live. They may be New Zealand-born or from refugee and migrant backgrounds. These communities also include international students, tourists, and international visitors.
CDEM personnel and members of CALD communities may face specific challenges, including differences in ability with spoken or written English, access to media in their language and the urgent need to communicate with whānau/family overseas. Emergency situations may trigger anxiety and stress associated with prior experiences.
As you engage and build relationships within your region, get to know the CALD groups in your area. CALD community networks are often well developed with strong connections, and will aid in communicating and engaging with community members.
The Get Ready website provides information on the natural disasters that can happen in New Zealand and advice on how to be better prepared. The website has information in twenty-seven languages.
More information is available in Information Series 12/13, Including CALD Communities: Information for the CDEM sector
Scientific advice and guidance from the health sector about various hazards and events will change based on best practice and previous events.
The Ministry of Health’s Protecting your Health in an Emergency provides general key messages for a response, but further advice may be tailored to specific circumstances. We recommend you check back with the lead agency and make contact with the local public health service for more area-specific guidance.
Learn more about Protecting your Health in an Emergency