Managing Director at Pear Tree Consulting, Nyssa Pierre.

Two of this country’s communications strategists are offering the Government tools on how it could improve its COVID-19 and vaccination campaigns, so that they could become more effective.

Managing Director of Pear Tree Consulting Nyssa Pierre and writer and freelance journalist Amanda Choo Quan, have suggested the creation of social media campaigns using infographics to educate the population on vaccines and the virus, while also providing factual information to dispel myths.

They also suggest the employment of behavioural psychologists to better understand and be able to effectively address the issue of resistance by members of the population; the employment of local artists to use their skills to counteract negative graffiti about the virus and vaccines and forming public/private partnerships to encourage citizen participation in vaccination.

On CNC3’s The Morning Brew yesterday, Choo Quan, who a week ago used social media to advise Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on a better communication strategy in seeking the co-operation of the nation’s people in the fight against COVID-19, said the current method was ineffective and not all-inclusive.

Stating that people were able to process and interpret information differently, Choo-Quan said while some people may respond well and understood graphs, numbers and charts, and the English language, others simply could not. Hence, her call for a broader, deeper understanding of the needs of people so that these needs could be met.

Pierre, on the other hand, in an attempt to educate people on the importance of the COVID-19 vaccinations, created a vaccine confidence album, which entails infographics on vaccine information. She said the compilation was also created to dispel vaccine misinformation.

“What I found in the build-up to the arrival and the distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccines, there was a lot of, not only hesitancy but just not a lot of general knowledge about the vaccine itself in terms of AstraZeneca. And general vaccine knowledge, how does it work, breaking terms like herd immunity, things that we hear all the time but may not necessarily even understand.”

She said her vaccination infographics, which are social, media-based, offered an easier relatable consumption by the public through simple but factual information on vaccines, their benefits, and why they should be taken.

Regarding conspiracy theories and myths about the coronavirus and vaccines, which have been plastered on walls and buildings throughout the capital city and other areas, via graffiti messages, Choo Quan said, this was very much a campaign —Guerrilla marketing—but a campaign nonetheless, that could only hinder progress as it was reinforcing a consistent negative message. She said against this backdrop the Government needed to take a page from the conspiracists’ book and revaluate its COVID-19 communication methods and strategies.

“We should take a few steps back, evaluate the efficacy of our current communications efforts, which right now are a sort of moot because we have a state of emergency, which mean that we’re not necessarily communicating to people anymore as much about staying inside because they have to. But what it really means is taking a few steps back, employing the assistance of a behavioural psychologist, doing a focus group, gaining research and understanding again, how we meet people where they are,” advised Choo Quan.