Covid-19 two years on: communication review
The Covid-19 pandemic has proven the vital importance of communication in a major health emergency where lives are at risk. Whether it’s between government to people, doctors to patients, within communities and so on, addressing people on both a national and local level is crucial and an effective communication network is central to it. When the Covid-19 pandemic almost engulfed the Italian population, the Italian Red Cross (IRC) or as they’re known nationally, Croce Rossa Italiana (CRI) was one of the humanitarian organisation’s at the forefront of the nation’s response. Read on to find out how important and effective their use of both traditional and modern communication methods was through various integrated campaigns.
Communication campaigns during COVID-19
The social media channels and the website of the IRC were essential tools to reach the population during the coronavirus emergency. From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic until December 2020, the IRC produced a total of 1,935 pieces of social media content. This included a variety of content that spanned different areas of the IRC’s multifaceted response from Covid-19 information and prevention material, material relating to the activities of the IRC and the Volunteers engaged in the response to the emergency, to the donation of blood, partnerships and stories and testimonies of the Volunteers and IRC staff involved in the field. Such content includes posts on Facebook and Instagram, news on the website, Tweets and videos on TikTok and YouTube.
Il tempo della gentilezza: The Time of Kindness
The campaign il Tempo della Gentilezza which translates to ‘The Time of Kindness’ was created to provide additional economic assistance to local committees of the Italian Red Cross (IRC) facing the pandemic emergency. It became the association’s main communication and fundraising campaign of 2020.
The principal aims of the campaign were the spread of information pertaining to the pandemic and its associated risks, as well as the raising of funds and visibility around the IRC activities in favour of those most vulnerable during the emergency. These aims were pursued using three main lines of activity:
- Education and prevention
- Storytelling on activities conducted for emergency response;
- Communication for fundraising
The educational activities of the campaign were directed to put restrain measures in place in response to the massive spread of fake news, especially during the first phases of the Covid-19 emergency.
The IRC has worked to provide correct and reliable information to the population to fight the war of misinformation and prevent any truffle attempts. Within this, the IRC has contributed to the national dissemination of information and best practices in Italy, as well as the guidelines of the Ministry of Health on the correct behavior to be adopted in order to avoid possible infections, identifying the most adequate channels for communication including social media.
Thanks to this campaign, the IRC was able to reach a very high number of people: during the year 2020, the accesses to the IRC Facebook page were 1,038,536,830.
To engage the general population in these associative activities, IRC volunteers shared their personal experiences during the pandemic, in the form of storytelling. One example is the testimony of Lydia, a twenty-year-old volunteer at the local Committee in Milan since 2019. She met the Red Cross when she was a high school student and now she is engaged in various services for social inclusion, logistics and medical transport. In particular, during the lockdown, she offered her assistance to the street unit taking care of homeless people by bringing food, blankets, medicines and the most important elements of companionship and comfort (quoted from National ITRC financial report, 2020). In her own words, Lydia recalled the experience and what volunteering means to her:
“To restore dignity to forgotten people. Talking with them, learning about their history and above all being able to help. They often ask me why I am a Volunteer. Because coming home with that feeling of having given a smile to someone in difficulty is indescribable”
A final part of this effective and humanised campaign that was instrumental to its success was the collection and promotion of donations from private individuals and companies.
Other campaign actions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic:
Aside from the campaign “Il Tempo della Gentilezza” (The Time of Kindness), in 2020 the ITRC has launched additional awareness campaigns linked to the Covid-19 emergency. These include:
POLLUTION EMERGENCY CAMPAIGN FROM PERSONAL PROTECTIVE DEVICES
Held online, this campaign aimed at enhancing public awareness of the environmental pollution caused by improper disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the Covid-19 emergency. In total, the campaign reached 1,725,981 people (who viewed the posts, news, and stories on the website and on other social media channels of the Association). In addition, a total of 22,198 people shared or liked posts, tweets and/or stories.
SAFE SUMMER CAMPAIGN
The aim of the Safe Summer campaign was to create a preventive culture amongst holiday goers by encouraging them to keep their holidays safe and minimise the health risks in light of the regulations issued by the Italian government against the spread of Covid-19. The campaign involved the bathing establishments members of Assobalneari (National Association of Seaside Tourist Entrepreneurs), together with the Volunteers of the Italian Red Cross. In addition to the measures and indications to be followed relating to the containment of the contagion from Covid-19, the themes of the campaign included: proper nutrition, digestion, exposure to the sun, the risks deriving from heat and knowing how to recognize the signs of fatigue and weakness. The reach of the campaign can be seen across the organisation’s social media viewership statistics.
The communications work of the Italian Red Cross grew from strength to strength throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and this is reflected in their reach. However, a key takeaway from their efforts is that although new forms of media can communicate to millions of people across geographical locations at one time, the heart and human impact of traditional and personal contact should not be forgotten – especially, at a local level. We’re delighted to have them as a partner on the PANDEM-2 project where their experience in direct pandemic preparedness and communications as a key part of that is invaluable.
Author: Sarah Tabozzi (Croce Rossa Italiana)
References: ITRC Annual Report 2020