Communication Experts Call for Ethical and Effective Communications to Handle Covid-19 Global Pandemic

Brussels, 15 April 2021 – The EACD, with the international professional and academic associations of public relations and communicators launched the Statement on Communication of Covid-19 Pandemic calling for honest and effective communication. A key take away is that “Public Relations practitioners are key to managing a pandemic as they can facilitate and maintain relations and mutual understanding between institutions and the public (Bled Manifest, 2002).”
More than a year since the World Health Organization first declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern under the International Health Regulations (IHR), numerous problems emerged concerning the coordination of communication across institutions about the virus, protective measures, correct responses and vaccination. Despite several warnings from the scientific community and the availability of information and lessons from previous infectious disease emergencies, governments and authorities around the world have shown a limited capacity to respond effectively to health emergency outbreaks.
Kim Larsen , President of the EACD states:“Lending the EACD voice to this statement will enable communication leaders across Europe to strengthen their knowledge positions with relevant stakeholders”
Effective communication is a complex, meticulous and strategic exercise. Governments, like businesses improve their impact, reputation and efficiency, when they ensure their teams include communication professionals from the design stage onwards. Communication should not be an output resource, but a key component of any organisational or business strategy. In our current situation, this will not only save costs and increase impact, but also save lives as citizens receive factual and timely information. 
Recent research evidence from the EUPRERA Com-Covid Network, a global series of national research projects organized by the European Public Relations Education and Research Associations have shown poor communication management along with low trust in information sources and authorities.
The capacity to relay the right information quickly and clearly across different media platforms is essential to manage a public health emergency in an unbounded media landscape. In contrast, unclear and dishonest information can multiplicate the opportunities for miscommunication, in addition to leading to the dissemination of fake news, conspiracy theories and the spread of counter- behaviours that can compromise the abilities of societies to control the virus. Misleading messages and contradictory hints from leaders and institutions compromise trust, which can hamper a successful collective response.
“Words matter. They can encourage socially responsible behaviour or they can reinforce fears that make people reluctant to do what is needed. Communication professionals, especially during crises, are critical partners with government in finding our collective way through times like these”, added Board member, Phil Riggins.
With this statement, international professional and academic associations of strategic communication and public relations want to identify the mistakes for authorities and citizens and help with effective solutions.
Ángeles Moreno, President of EUPRERA said: “We know that ethical professional communication can save lives. Excellent practitioners are key to managing a pandemic as they can facilitate and maintain relations and mutual understanding between institutions and the public”.

The full Statement is available at: bit.ly/CStatement

The statement is supported by:

EUPRERA. European Public Relations Education and Research Association. Ángeles Moreno, President
EACD European Association of Communication Directors. Kim Larsen, President
ECREA European Communication Research and Education Association Section for Organisational and Strategic Communication (OSC). Isabel Ruiz-Mora, OSC Chair
FERPI Federazione Relazioni Pubbliche Italiana. Rosella Sobrero, President
Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management. Justin Green, President
ICA International Communication Association Public Relations Division. Flora Hung-Baesecke, Division Chair
Institute for Public Relations. Tina McCorkindale, President
INTERDECOM International Declaration of Communications Professionals and Researchers for a healthier, viable, better world, Solange Tremblay, Leading Author
IPRA International Public Relations Association. Philippe Borremans, President
NORA The Nordic Alliance for Communication & Management. Alexander Buhmann, Director
The Museum of Public Relations. Shelley J. Spector, President
Women in PR North America. Talia Beckett Davis, President
BledCom International Public Relations Research Symposium. Dejan Verčič, Co-founder