Communicating Coronavirus: Best Practices for Churches

Communicating Coronavirus: Best Practices for Churches

This isn't the first time humans have faced a pandemic.

After studying previous outbreaks like SARS and Avian Flu, the World Health Organization put together a thick manual on Best Practices for Communciating During an Outbreak, way back in 2004. It’s great, but it’s 75 pages. (Gulp.)  We’ve simplified it into just twelve bullet points in our Coronavirus Communication Cheat Sheet. It covers the basics, and it’s a 1-minute read.

We’re not doctors, and we’re not clergy. We’re communicators.

My wife and I run a media and communications company that specializes in simplifying complicated messages. (My wife Jade is also a seminarian at the Boston University School of Theology, so we do have some church cred.)  Most of our clients are financial or technical companies, the kind where you really have no idea what the company actually does. Our company helps translate their messages into plain English, then we help those messages spread. In marketing lingo, we help them “go viral.”  Good ideas are viral.

COVID-19 is a virus, but good information acts like an antivirus.  Good ideas travel from human to human, through our minds and spirits.  Ideas don’t cure Coronavirus, of course.  But they can help the public understand the need to #SlowTheSpread, or support #HealthcareHeroes.

Churches have a mighty role to play in this #Coronacrisis.  Here’s a page out of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, developed by the Center for Disease Control back in 2005:

The giant red circles are mine, because this what the church is literally called to do:
  1. Provide social support services
  2. Help spread useful information
  3. Provide comfort
  4. Encourage calm
To that end, we’ve put together a messaging toolkit for faith-based leaders to communicate well during Coronavirus, spreading useful information, providing comfort, and encouraging calm.

It's called CoCo (short for Coronavirus Communication). Good ideas -- like the Good News -- spread from person to person, from heart to heart. In an age of so much sickness from this virus, good ideas are the antivirus -- and we can all help them spread.

We need you to help these messages spread -- about the importance of taking care of each other (and ourselves) in this time. If they align with your faith beliefs, they're free to use: no credit needed. Use them in sermons, emails, and tweets. Free of copyright. Free of charge.

As painful as things may get during this time, great things are happening. Keep the faith.
John Hargrave is CEO of the global media and communications company Media Shower, and a member of the Wellesley Congregational Church in Wellesley, MA.


John Hargrave

Member, The Wellesley Congregational Church, known as the Village Church of Wellesley, and organizer of their weekly Christian meditation practice

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