Sharing Information

Barbara S. Reynolds
Crisis Communication Expert
Office of Communication
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Treat people like you would like to be treated yourself. The danger comes from assuming you are protecting people or avoiding a bigger problem by keeping information away from the public.  The motives may be noble, but the outcome could be the opposite. CDC and five universities did research and a series of 55 focus groups. Among the findings, three points were clear from the participants: any information is empowering, uncertainty is more difficult to deal with than knowing a bad thing; and people are prepared to go to multiple sources for information.

Here's where the idea of holding back information as a way to "manage" the crisis breaks down. We live in the information age. It's going to get out either in an up front way or a back door way. So, would you rather give the facts in context or allow someone else to frame the information the way they want to?