Communicating for health

Communicate what WHO knows early

WHO communicators work at a fast pace to ensure that urgent health information reaches decision-makers in time to protect health. This information must be accurate to maintain the Organization’s reputation and credibility. The need to be quick and accurate is an ongoing tension in communicating urgently needed health information. WHO cannot sacrifice accuracy, but can still rapidly communicate details it does know, and also explain what the Organization is doing to find answers to areas of uncertainty.

WHO and partners working together on emergency response coordination

Use social media

Twitter and other platforms can help WHO messages quickly reach millions of people.

  • A Twitter-first approach speeds dissemination of critical information that is verified, while more detailed information is developed and cleared.
  • WHO Twitter alerts can be sent from the WHO account as SMS messages that can rapidly inform people about urgent health risks. SMS is especially useful to reach target audiences who are in areas where internet connections are unstable.

Engage the media

WHO communicators regularly reach out to local, national and international print, television and radio outlets. There are various approaches for communicators to engage with the media.

Enhance emergency communications

Health emergencies demand rapid dissemination of information and guidance

Leverage partners

Communicators can work with partners to reach the target audience rapidly by using partners’ familiarity with decision-makers and customized channels to reach them. This should take place on partners’ communications channels and in accordance with their approval timelines. Communicators keep an up-to-date list of communication contacts from partner organizations and other health agencies to speed coordination of messages and materials.