Designing COVID-19 Campaigns to Achieve Individual Compliance: Examples From Austria, the U.S., and Australia

Designing COVID-19 Campaigns to Achieve Individual Compliance: Examples From Austria, the U.S., and Australia

Isabell Koinig (Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6825-5.ch022
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The literature describes a pandemic as a unique form of health crisis that requires intensive communicative efforts. The primary aim of this study is to investigate how COVID-19 health communication campaigns are designed on three continents to get individuals to comply with the proposed actions and measures. Results indicate that the prevalence of emotional messages correspond with previous research findings, which demonstrated that similarity with a testimonial and narratives can be useful tools to increase message effectiveness. Hence, government officials are advised to invest in message presentation.
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Communication During Crisis

Pandemics qualify as a form of crisis (Saliou, 1994), attesting to situations in which individuals lack experience and, therefore, actively seek guidance (Gray et al., 2012). Crisis communication then helps sensitize people for the risks associated with the crisis and encourages them to adopt preventive measures by changing their behaviors accordingly (Coombs, 2007). In an attempt to reduce the negative consequences and risks associated with the crisis, it is essential to gain the cooperation of all stakeholders involved (Blendon et al., 2008; Holmes, 2008), first and foremost the general public (Rasmussen et al., 2008). The public needs to be mobilized as a partner in the crisis; for this reason, crisis communication should appeal to individuals’ capacities to take preventive action (Rasmussen et al., 2008; Blendon et al, 2008). Experts have determined that proving the public with information and instruction – and thus engaging in a process of constant communication – is seen as paramount (Wallis & Nerlich, 2005). Just like in other crisis situations, COVID-19 requires “well-coordinated health communications” to assist individuals in managing their daily lives under uncertain circumstances (Reynolds & Quinn, 2008). Instructing information predominantly concerned three areas: information on the pandemic, the public’s primary needs, and precautionary measures (Kim & Fisher Liu, 2012). Furthermore, preventive information and reactive information need to be differentiated (Saliou, 1994). Preventive information is meant to sensitize public opinion with regard to the crisis, whereas reactive information is meant to not only inform the affected population, but also defuse a potential panic and prevent rumors from spreading (Saliou, 1994). Timely and transparent information is further seen as a must, allowing the public to derive at realistic assessments of the threat posed by the crisis (Fischhoff, 2005; Tinker et al., 2001; Covello, 2003).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Message Appeal: All (informative or emotional) cues that are utilized in promotional messages to attract both consumers’ interest and attention, further steering their feelings towards the advertised service or product (Kinnear et al., 1995).

Cross-Cultural Comparison: Comparisons, whereby established practices, and behaviors from two or more countries are contrasted and reflected against the cultural particularities of the respective countries.

Health Communication: Health communication describes the practice of communicating and disseminating information on health topics to a widely dispersed mass audience (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).

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