Webinar addresses post-COVID messaging fatigue and how governments can best reach citizens
After a year of constant and breaking COVID-19 updates from news outlets, health organizations and local governments, constituents everywhere are facing a modern-day problem: message fatigue.
“There was a substantial increase (in messaging), not only in the country but across the world due to COVID, and that’s understood,” said Brian Toolan, government strategy director at Everbridge, a software company that provides messaging systems for governments, in a webinar, “Rebounding from Message Fatigue: Emergency Alerting in a Post COVID World,” hosted by American City & County.In 2019, Toolan said Everbridge processed about 3.5 billion messages through its platforms. In 2020, as the pandemic was being fully realized across the globe, 5 billion messages were sent—an increase of 1.5 billion.
But while an increase in messaging is generally understood by most people, given the pandemic’s rapidly evolving conditions, “At what point does someone just go into their settings and say, ‘enough is enough,’ and turn it off?” Toolan asked.
The implications of constituents tuning out emergency notifications could be dire (for example, during fire season in the west, it’s important that people know if there’s danger in their area). Given the potential consequences, Toolan stressed it’s important that municipal leaders weigh the effect a message might have before pushing the “send” button.
“The line between ‘important’ and ‘life safety’ has been blurred a little bit,” Toolan continued. “We sometimes feel obligated to push out information, even if we don’t have anything new to say.”
There are several reasons for this. If the next town over is sending out more alerts, it might seem like they’re doing a better job in responding to situations as they arise. And pressure from a few concerned people for minute-by-minute updates might prompt more communication than is necessary. But it’s a fallacy. If government leaders send out too much information, the community might stop listening.
To read the complete article and access the archived webinar, visit American City & County.