Last week in class, we ran through a mock-up of what our final exam is going to be, which is designing a disaster text in about an hour and half in response to a crisis situation. For the mock-up, we discussed the Nepal earthquake, and worked on creating the best disaster text possible for the situation. Near the end of class, we talked about if there are any universal principles for disaster communication, and discovered that indeed, there are.
1. Knowing your audience
If you don’t know who you’re talking to or how to reach the people you are trying to communicate with, then it is highly unlikely that you will create an effective disaster communicate method. What types of living conditions do these people have? What resources do they have access to? What is their culture like, and does that effect the way I might try to communicate with them? These are all important questions to ask and understand about your audience.
2. Giving options
Rather than telling people what to do and when to do it, it is important to give people viable options to choose from, as not everyone is in the same situation. It is important to recognize that every individual has different needs.
3. Researching the disaster
If you don’t know what’s going on and how people are previously coping, then you probably won’t get very far. This goes into knowing the area and the audience.
These are all valid principles that must be implemented in order to have an effective disaster communication. Obviously, each communication method will depend on the disaster, since each one is unique, but as far as basic principles go, the ones listed above are the way to go.