(QCOSTARICA) “The pandemic is not killing us but the quality of information they give us,” say experts urging the Government of Carlos Alvarado to change its communication strategy with which it is attacking COVID-19, as the increase in cases in recent weeks shows that the current message has worn out and no longer effective.
The current word has entered through one ear and out through the other. That is, it has not stuck.
This alarming figure of 649 cases registered this Thursday, for a grand total of 6485 infections since the first case on March 6, was a figure that the Ministry of Health had projected for between July 20 and 21 if people paid attention and obeyed the sanitary measures. And if people did not pay attention, as has happened, that high figure was projected for between July 13 and 14.
They fell short. Disobedience allowed that figure to be reached 4 days ahead of the government’s worst scenario projection.
It is very clear that people in Costa Rica are not paying attention and the Government must change the message, it must impact.
We can all agree that the daily press conference, that has been held since the coronavirus first came to the country, captured the attention of the population, but that has been changing.
“People have turned off their common sense, they do not see the pandemic as it really is but they see it as they want to see it … This also means that the sense of justice, which is what makes a person value something, doesn’t work either. Many people are not giving value to their own life, less to that of others and right now it is urgent that we work together, in society, we must put aside selfishness.
“To change this, you have to make an impact on people, it is necessary for the government to change the message on the subject, the people who are in charge of communication have to be better sellers, change the model of the conference, give it an air of coolness, appeal to love, feelings, touch the deepest fibers of people, aim for intelligence,” said Mauricio Corrales, a personal motivator.
One example is the daily count by the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas. The passion in his message, as it once was, is gone; he is now seen as reading from a script. The monotonic message is continued by most of the other ministers who come and go from the daily pressers.
When President Carlos Alvarado joins the presser we came to expect an important message, lately, it has been more rhetoric, the same please, the same call, the message over and over. Nothing new. Then he dashes off before answering questions from the press.
Perhaps they all take a cue from a more passionate voice, that of the director of Health Surveillance, Rodrigo Marin, as an example his Tweet on Thursday, “Es alarmante o PARAMOS LA FIESTA Ok NOS LLEVA PUTAS.” – Translation: “It’s alarming, WE STOP PARTYING OR WE’RE F***”.
The message has to change
Publicist Jeancarlo Porras told La Teja he agrees with Corrales and says that an informative strategy is urgent.
“I feel like what they have done is like trying to scare people and it has not been about educating people. It has been said ad nauseam that you have to wash your hands, that you have to maintain physical distance, that you have to stay home, among other things, but many people do not even know that it is really a pandemic and there has not been an information campaign that explains it.
“There is so much ignorance that there is in a large part of the population that many refuse to get on the same bus as people who work in a hospital or realize that a neighbor got COVID-19 and they even want to stone their house, all this is due to lack of information,” said Porras.
For his part, the publicist and marketer Luis Céspedes assure that the authorities have been late to implement a real communication campaign to combat the coronavirus.
“The Government’s message has been more than anything preventive, but it is time to generate a true awareness among the population” Luis Céspedes, publicist
Costa Rica had the advantage in that it already knew that COVID-19 was coming, that when the virus was raging in China, it should have started to educate with handwashing, physical distancing, it could have taken advantage of that, the schools had not yet closed to teach children and young people how to cope with the disease.
“At this point (in the pandemic) there is still no effective communication strategy because let me tell you what it is to watch every day, while eating rice and beans, a conference with bad news that is aimed at a population in Costa Rica full of psychosis, hungry because people are being fired every day, whose wages are being cut, nothing to help raise awareness at all, rather what it creates is a state of tension. Diay! The pandemic is not killing us but the quality of information they give us,” he assured.
Céspedes says that although it is too late, the government can still modify its strategy to improve the message.
“I would do a campaign in two stages, one that I would call ‘This is reality’, in which in very simple language I would explain where the country is at the moment and a second phase with announcements, television and radio spots, posts in social networks and newspaper ads with iconic images that allow different sectors of the country to feel identified with the message.
“How do you think a common person feels, who works in the fields when he sees Minister Salas and the president of the Caja, Román Macaya, all tied up and in fine suits, giving them a message? I assure you that they do not feel identified with them,” said the specialist.
Céspedes says that the best way to communicate is to appeal to people’s emotions, speaking clearly and simply, but above all, making people identify with the message they receive.