Public Announcements are a mass communication [C.5] tool to convey important hygiene-related messages quickly. They can reach many people at once and are cost-effective.
Public Announcements aim to spread vital information (e.g. about acute health risks or protective hygiene practices), raise general awareness on an issue and help influence attitudes and behavioural norms C.9. It is more effective when focused on the most relevant information and conveying a small number of messages at one time. Repeating the message several times is also helpful. Public Announcements need to be made in the local language and adapted to the local context. They are a one-way form of communication with little or no participatory characteristics although they should be based on a community assessment and subsequently Monitored M.2. Because it is difficult to know whether the information has been clearly understood by the target audience, Public Announcements should be complemented by other tools, methods and messages. The information may also require reinforcement by local health or hygiene promoters using more participatory communication C.4. Public Announcements are commonly made on Radio or Television T.38. They can be made using a megaphone or loudspeaker, often in an area where many people gather (e.g. markets); mobile loudspeakers mounted on a vehicle are also used. Public Announcements on radio or television (known as Public Service Announcements) are often free of charge.
Public Announcements are particularly useful in the acute response phase when information and messages have to be spread quickly. Because of its simplicity and the limited number of materials required, it can be used in various contexts and address large audiences.
Ensure that messages are clear and memorable and, if possible, repeated several times
Use group-relevant and appropriate words and language
Consider using a slogan or song to make messages more memorable
Do not spread overly complex messages
Do not rely on Public Announcements as the only communication tool and consider other more participatory communication methods
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Public Announcements were used frequently by governments around the world to provide information on staying home, social distancing, using facemasks and washing hands. This information was repeated numerous times using different modes of communication, including Radio and TV T.38 and Social Media T.44. In the UK the slogan, ‘Hands, Face, Space’ was used to make this information more memorable. Later Public Announcements focused on the importance of getting immunised and where this could be obtained.
CDC (undated): Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication. Manual and Tools
Ford, C., Khajehpour, S. (undated): Preparing the Ground for Better Dialogue, Better Information, Better Action. Lessons on Communicating With Communities in Emergencies, CDAC Network
CDAC Network, ACAPS (2014): Assessing Information and Communication Needs: A Quick and Easy Guide for Those Working in Humanitarian Response