The Importance of Audience Feedback

Stylized words,

Audience feedback is a critical part of the communication process. It allows us—as public health communicators—to understand how our message is being received and how it is being interpreted. We then have the ability to adjust our message and improve its effectiveness. Although resources, especially time, are limited during emergencies, focusing some attention on feedback can help us share better information with the people who need it.

So, how do we get audience feedback? We listen. Listening to your target population means making sure there are open lines of communication between your audience and your organization. Show the public you’re interested in what they have to say, and then give them an outlet to voice concerns or get more information. Provide the public with a free information hotline, an email address, or a place where they can access frequently asked questions.

These exchanges can be very valuable to you as a communicator. They can help you understand:

  • What questions need answers
  • What is most upsetting
  • What information needs further explanation
  • Which public health recommendations aren’t working and should be changed

Emergency communication is as much about delivering information as it is about receiving input that can enhance your messages to help people stay safe and well.

In addition to collecting direct feedback, you can also monitor traditional and social media to get a sense of how the public feels about an emergency. Trending topics can be an indicator of major information gaps; tracking these conversations on the Internet, radio, or television can help inform your future communications.

For more information on CERC visit our website and check out the CERC manual. You can also read previous CERC Corners.

Have you used CERC in your work? To share your CERC stories, e-mail Your stories may appear in future CERC Corners.

Page last reviewed: March 23, 2017 (archived document)