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COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable: Promoting Productive Action — Lessons from the CDC’s Crisis Comms Handbook


This event has concluded. Scroll down to find a full video replay.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), in its Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication manual, says that the primary purpose of communication in a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic is to motivate people to “take actions that will reduce their risk of harm.” Without good information and guidance, some will take counter-productive actions—even doing the opposite of what experts and authorities call on them to do. Communicators and leaders of nonprofits and foundations can play an important role by promoting productive action.

In this Network Virtual Roundtable, we’ll be joined by Doug Hattaway, founder of Hattaway Communications. Doug has combed through the CDC’s 400-page manual to gather recommendations for communications to promote productive action. He has three decades of experience in crisis communications, including the 2001 anthrax attack on the U.S. Congress, when he served as communications director for the Senate Majority Leader.

You’ll learn:

  • Scientific insights and ideas for nonprofits and foundations to spread useful messages
  • How to counter harmful misinformation
  • How to encourage beneficial behaviors.

“Effective communication during a crisis is not an attempt at mass mental therapy, nor is it a magic potion that fixes all problems. Nonetheless, to reduce the psychological impact of a crisis, the public should feel empowered to take actions that will reduce their risk of harm.” CDC Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Manual

Notes from the roundtable can be found here.

Promote Action: Insights and Ideas from the CDC’s Crisis Communications Handbook

Emphasizing the Positive: The Aspirational Communication Model


We’ve started a Coronavirus Crisis Comms Triage Kit —click the link to share and crowdsource best practices, resources, and examples of effective crisis comms from foundations and nonprofits covering many of the tasks you’re likely attending to.



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