Spreading the Word: PLOS Advances Research Through Media Partnerships

Last year, PLOS helped more than 2,300 articles receive media coverage in high-profile outlets including The New York Times, the BBC, National Geographic, Scientific American and The Washington Post. How do we do it? For

Why is politics failing?

In a way this is a silly question: politics is politics, and always has been. The real question is why liberal democratic politics is becoming unrepresentative and generating cynicism, extremism and alienation among the supposedly represented. The answer is, I think, a loss of the social contract that made representative democracy work. In the US, Read More...

CDC Crisis Communicators: Making Every Message Count

microphones set up for a news conference

An unexpected public health emergency can happen anywhere and to anyone. The right health or safety message at the right time from the right person can save lives. However, poor communication can also make an emergency situation much worse.

CDC’s crisis communicators are trained to speak to the public when the unthinkable happens to them, their families, and their communities. Crisis communicators use evidence-based communication strategies to deliver messages to help people stay safe and healthy during a disaster.

Crisis communicators work with scientists, doctors, and other experts during disasters to deliver information to people. To be ready to share information effectively, building partnerships is critical to reach target audiences, both domestically and globally.

How CDC Crisis Communicators Work

Working with CDC scientists who are experts on disease outbreaks, natural disasters, biological threats, and more, crisis communicators determine the best way to get health messages to the people who need them.

MERS press conference in 2014From scientific research, we know that people process information differently during a disaster than they would otherwise do in their day-to-day lives – they respond better to simple, positive action steps. In an emergency, people need guidance as soon as it’s available, whether it’s complete or not. They need to hear the information from someone they trust, and they need information fast and often. These principles guide how messages are created during an emergency and how and when the messages are sent.

Having a crisis communication plan is critical. Although this plan will likely change as the crisis evolves, the initial outline helps to focus communication goals.

Even the best messages will be ineffective if the target audience does not receive them. Communicators must know who to talk to and how to make advice actionable. To do this, communicators rely heavily on partner engagement, develop messages for specific audiences, and use targeted messages. CDC crisis communicators focus on developing relationships with established community organizations, building relationships with spokespersons who are familiar with affected groups, and targeting at-risk populations.

As communicators, all of the information available is used to measure whether messages are reaching the right people at the right time. Monitoring and analyzing web traffic, social media and media coverage helps identify important information that is missing, rumors that should be addressed, and the impact that communication has on the public’s response to a disaster. Communication plans are adjusted based on these analyses and strategies are developed to improve the distribution of information to the people who need it.

CDC’s Ebola Response

In the last year and a half, CDC’s emergency communication activities have focused on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. CDC has created over 500 distinct communication materials, including infographics, tutorials, and guidance documents that help people understand how to protect themselves and their families from Ebola. This large number of communications materials were developed to address various in-country needs, including a variety of languages spoken, low literacy levels, and cultural preferences. For Ebola-related communication, cultural considerations have helped us reach more people effectively. For instance, people in West Africa speak several languages, some of which are mainly spoken rather than written. Words were often replaced with pictures and illustrations to address language barriers, and radio, text messages, and social media channels were used to deliver messages.

IMG_7092_smCDC works alongside Ebola experts at home and in West Africa to adapt the content, format, and delivery of public health information. Local clinicians, both in Africa and the United States, needed guidance on how to help Ebola patients while protecting themselves, their staff, and other patients from getting sick with the virus. In West Africa, CDC provided in-person training for journalists, community leaders, and faith healers to help prepare them to protect their communities from Ebola. In the United States, CDC hosted in-person trainings, provided updates to healthcare organization networks, and conducted national-level conference calls that were attended by more than 16,000 healthcare providers and organizations.

Over the course of the Ebola response, CDC has also communicated with public health partners and reached more than 32,000 people and organizations who subscribed to the CDC Emergency Partner Newsletter. The CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response website is updated with the latest event information. CDC’s Center for Global Health has strong connections with health communicators around the world and these channels are used to reach the global public health community.

CDC crisis communicators are committed to lowering the rates of illness, injury, and death when disaster strikes by carefully crafting messages for specific audiences and delivering those messages through effective communication channels. Crisis communicators strive to make every message count.

Read All About it: PLOS ONE in the News

Polar_Bear_AdF Polar Bear jumping, in Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, Norway. Arturo de Frias MarquesThis December, the Press team is reflecting on some of the PLOS ONE articles covered in the news in 2015. Over the past year ~2,000 PLOS ONE publications were covered in over 6,000 news stories.

What Kind of Buddhist was Steve Jobs, Really?

Kobun-ChinoKobun Chino Otogawa, Steve Jobs’ Zen teacher. One reason I was looking forward to reading Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Steve Jobs was my hope that, as a sharp-eyed reporter, Isaacson would probe to the

PLOS ONE’s Top 5 Videos of 2015 (So Far)

At the end of 2014, we highlighted some of our favorite research videos from that year. We’re only mid-way through 2015, but we already have a number of popular research videos that we’d like to share. Here are some of … Continue reading »

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Zoom-Enhance: Identifying Trends in Article-Level Metrics

In late December 2013, PLOS ONE published an article from UK-based Psychologists Rob Jenkins and Christie Kerr titled “Identifiable Images of Bystanders Extracted from Corneal Reflections”. Using high-resolution photography, Jenkins, from the University of York, and Kerr, from the University … Continue reading »

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Climate Change By Numbers

Happy New Year (er…)! Sorry for the total lack of posts since September – I’ve been busy settling into my new lectureship at The Open University, a UK distance learning university based in Milton Keynes. I’ve joined the research group … Continue reading »

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Updated: The Sketchbook of Susan Kare, the Artist Who Gave Computing a Human Face

Wonderful update: When Susan first told me that she still had this sketchbook in her attic while I was writing the introduction to her book Icons, I became tremendously excited. I asked her to please bring it to me so … Continue reading »

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At Year’s End: Staff Editors’ Favorite PLOS ONE Articles of 2014

2014 has been an exciting year for PLOS ONE. We saw the journal reach a milestone, publishing its 100,000th article. PLOS ONE also published thousands of new research articles this year, including some ground-breaking discoveries, as well as some unexpected … Continue reading »

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