Communication in Times of Crisis
With proactive, transparent communications, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut resolutely combated “fake news” and offered the general public reliable information on vaccines and biomedicines against COVID-19.
In early 2020 – even before it became obvious that the coronavirus pandemic was going to have a serious and lasting impact on societies across the globe – the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut had already laid the groundwork for reaching the relevant communities (healthcare specialists, general public, media) and had comprehensively upgraded its communications landscape. The communication strategy that had been formulated by the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut in 2018 included a preference for digital and cross-media communications that are visually appealing and easily accessible to all user groups. The focus is on recognising the information needs of the target groups and serving them effectively. In terms of content, the Institute’s communications continued to reflect the established narrative: The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut stands for the highest level of safety and efficacy of authorised vaccines – a level of safety and efficacy that the public can rely on.
The completely overhauled website – now well organised, responsive and bilingual – went online in November 2019. The new website has proven its worth as the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut’s central information platform for all stakeholders. The integration of videos and infographics made it easier to understand complex scientific and regulatory relationships. In addition to the relaunch of the website, the Press and Information Office activated various social media channels on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, thus reaching new target groups.
Ultimately, whether or not a communication strategy is effective will only become clear when it is actually im-plemented. It requires the backing of senior management and a strong team – the key to our communications success, and not only in times of pandemic.Carola Lübbing-Raukohl , Head of the Press and Information Office
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut came increasingly under the spotlight of the media and the general public. Thanks to the new strategy, the unit responsible for communications was able to communicate promptly via the various channels in a manner appropriate to the relevant target groups.
A dossier provided up-to-date information on developments in vaccines and biomedicines against COVID-19. By the end of 2020, the Institute had already gained more than 7,000 followers on Twitter and more than 6,000 on LinkedIn. More than 11 explanatory and expert videos have been produced on the research and regulation of COVID-19 vaccines. During this time, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut’s newsroom drew up 92 press releases and website reports. FAQs became the preferred format for efficiently answering related queries from the press, healthcare specialists and the general public. In 2020, the number of press enquiries rose to over 1,800, an 85% increase on the previous year. Professor Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, gave more than 220 interviews, in which he repeatedly stressed the importance of the scientific assessment of vaccine developments for public trust in COVID-19 vaccines.