How to use Messages

What is a Common Message?

As pointed out in the NRRC Communications Group DRR Mapping exercise, there are many organizations in Nepal communicating risk reduction to the public. However, this communications has been ad-hoc and messages have varied. As a result, the communications work risks confusing public on how to prepare for disaster and reduce disaster risk.

In order to ensure the public is receiving the correct information on reducing risk and preparing for disaster, government and organizations must agree to common messages. These common messages outline the technical content and correct advice for the public. The purpose of the common messages is to provide a technical framework of standardizing the substance of our collective messages. An individual will be more likely to internalize a message and change behaviour if they are receiving the same advice from all sources.

Through stakeholder consultations, a large list of common messages has been agreed for earthquake, flood, landslide and fire. These messages cover three broad categories: Awareness of Risk, Mitigation of Risk, and Preparedness for Response. All messages can be found in Annex I; however, government and organizations are encouraged to communicate from the 10 Key Messages. Communications efforts across government and organizations will be more effective if the messages are focused and reinforcing. An audience is more likely to internalize 10 key messages rather than having dozens of messages from different sources.

It is important to highlight that the common message only provides the technical and correct information on reducing risk and preparing for disaster. It remains the responsibility of the government and organizations to customize the message in order to effectively reach their target group. How to communicate and what to communicate are mutually reinforcing; the common messages only provides what to communicate. There are various studies (such as Knowledge and Practice Surveys) that identify how to best communicate to a particular audience.

How to use Common Messages

Government and organizations are encouraged to use common messages from the 10 Key Messages. After selecting messages to be used, partners need to customize the message based on how they will communicate with the target audience.  The following graph outlines the steps in using the common messages: