JPA Health principal Carrie Jones offer pointers for how communicators can help organizations navigate issues surrounding the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine on the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interview.
Jones says that vaccine hesitancy messages are increasingly mainstream in the current environment, which creates an enormous challenge for communicators.
“For example,” she tells Simon, “we've seen Operation Warp Speed come out and there's this natural human tendency to say, well, it's happened fast, maybe the quality has been compromised. And we're seeing the anti-vaxxers lob onto that and now have access to mainstream consumers, where before they really were in an echo chamber only talking to themselves.”
The way to combat that, she says, is “message and repeat, message and repeat,” making sure that audiences know the process that goes into vaccine development and FDA approval, as well as “all of the advantages that come with vaccination for diseases like COVID.”
Trust is another big barrier. “We're seeing the public's general mistrust of the politicians, the government, as well as healthcare professionals more than ever before.”
Getting out the message on vaccines and building trust will require messaging from many different sources. “I think all influencers will have a great ability to be able to help reach those around them,” Jones tells Simon.
And though the desire to get back to normal is strong, Jones cautions against jumping the gun. “We know that washing hands and maintaining social distancing will continue to be important,” she says. “Communicators really need to continue to carry the message and serve by example about the importance of wearing masks and carrying these healthy behaviors forward.”
But Jones adds that convincing people to get vaccinated is still job number one. After that, she says communicators need “to simplify the message, give consumers the reason why.” Finally, PR pros should “step away from the politicization that's taking place so that it's not being associated with right wing or left wing, but rather on just taking care of the health of you and your family.”
Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]