Towards more effective multilingual crisis communication - applying social marketing principles to the reality of covid-19 epidemic in finland
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Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare Finland
University of Eastern Finland Finland
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1375
Background and Objective:
Effective multilingual crisis communication can improve equity, inclusion, and access to information of linguistic minorities during crises. However, studies examining efficacy of multilingual crisis communications are scarce. This study examines how different strategies for improving effectiveness of multilingual and multichannel Covid-19 communications were utilized in Finland and whether the criteria for effective social marketing methods were fulfilled.

Data consisted of 25 semi-structured interviews with persons responsible for development and dissemination of multilingual Covid-19 communications in municipalities (n=8), non-governmental organizations (n=7), and government officials (n=10). The interviews were conducted between April and September 2022. The data were analyzed using deductive theory-based qualitative content analysis. The researcher used social marketing principles as a starting point for analysis and compared findings from qualitative data to those principles.

There were several efforts to improve and measure the effects of multilingual communications during the epidemic, but the efforts were inconsistent. The main effort was placed on understanding how to reach the target groups. The key elements for successful multilingual crisis communications mentioned were in consistency with social marketing principles including co-creation and cooperation, using already existing networks, and combining different communication methods. However, interviewees described that there were no resources to collect systematic knowledge to understand the reasoning behind the behavior of the target group nor to evaluate effectiveness of crisis response measures during the epidemic.

There were several useful methods for effective multilingual crisis communication utilized and developed during the epidemic, but more effort is needed to utilize those methods more efficiently and coherently in future crisis preparedness. This can be done by creating systematic multilingual crisis communication plans already before crisis. By further improving the plans can significantly improve the effectiveness of multilingual crisis communications and the social equity of linguistic minorities during crises.

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