What society expects and receives
The press conferences of the Operational Group during the SARS-COVID-19 pandemic
Perhaps there is no dispute that during crises, and especially global crises, social crisis communication requires a high degree of commitment to the public and communities. In times of health emergencies, effective communication, which in this case means epidemic-risk communication, cannot be a one-way communication, it should be based on dialogue and has to be a process of wide-ranging multi-stakeholder information- and opinion exchange. Its purpose should not be solely to communicate rules and statistics data and to express expected behaviours. The pandemic-related police communication is expected to strengthen, amongst others, (public) trust, encourage the proper behaviour, help the civilians with their decision-making, provide an opportunity to articulate their concerns and doubts, and respond to them professionally and authentically. On 31st January in 2020, the Hungarian Government decided to establish the Operational Group responsible for defending and managing the coronavirus epidemic. Till now, the daily press conferences of this Unit were (and still are) the base for informing the citizens. The press conference genre has been taken to a new level by restriction of the journalists and exclusion of spontaneous questions, that cannot be asked directly anymore. The Operational Group selects the questions and mediums which are worthy of answers. In my presentation, the societal expectations with the experienced (governmental and police) practice will be analysed, comparing them with the general principles included in the work of theoretical experts of crisis communication.
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