CERC Manual

CDC’s Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) manual is based on psychological and communication sciences, studies in issues management, and practical lessons learned from emergency responses. The CERC manual is intended for public health response officials and communicators who have a basic knowledge of public health communication, working with the media and social media, and local and national response structures.

CERC Manual Chapters
CDC responder talking to villagers about Ebola in Liberia.

Last updated 2018
– Types of emergencies and factors that increase the risk of crisis
– Definitions of crisis and emergency risk communication (CERC) concepts
– Lifecycle of CERC and how communication works at each phase of a crisis

: A woman holding and comforting a friend after a disaster.

Last updated 2019
– The four ways people process information during a crisis
– Mental states during a disaster, such as uncertainty, helplessness, and hopelessness
– Risk perception and behaviors

Girl viewing flip book on Ebola information

Last updated 2018
– Understanding your audiences
– Making facts work in your message
– Building credibility and trust
– Gathering audience feedback

Officials visiting a disaster site.

Last updated 2018
– Communities in the context of an emergency
– Types of community relationships
– Community engagement in each phase of a crisis
– Levels of community engagement
– Tips for community engagement

Two communicators poring over a communications plan.

Last updated 2014
– Phases of a crisis
– Developing the plan
– Applying the plan throughout CERC lifecycle

Dr. Anne Schuchat, speaking to reporters at a CDC news conference

Last updated 2014
– The role of the spokesperson in crisis communication
– Characteristics and best practices of a spokesperson
– Working with the media and public meetings

A public health official speaking with reporters

Last updated 2014
– The media’s role in a crisis, disaster, or emergency
– Interacting with the media and developing positive relationships
– Meeting media needs throughout an emergency
– Responding to media regarding significant errors, myths, and misperceptions

Laptop keyboard and cell phone.

Last updated 2014
– Communication channel attributes
– Channel characteristics and features
– Applying specific communication tools

A group of young people that are taking pictures and accessing social media on their cellphones

Last updated 2014
– Social media’s relationship with mainstream media
– Role of social media in a crisis
– Responding to social media regarding serious errors, myths, and misperceptions

A biohazard clean-up crew dressed in Personal Protective Equipment that are examining a contaminated site

Last updated 2014
– Challenges to communicating during chemical, biological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) events.
– Understanding psychological responses to terrorism
– Communicating about the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS)

A group of public health professionals sitting around a table during a meeting

Last updated 2014
– Appropriate staffing and preparation to maintain the well-being of communicators
– Preparing for and addressing the mental health of responders and their families

A group of public health professionals at a meeting of various CDC partners

Last updated 2014
– Key federal government agencies that may be involved in an emergency response and their roles.
– How communities, local and federal government agencies, and national and international organizations coordinate and communicate in a response

A judge at a desk with a gavel on it, writing a document.

Last updated 2014
– Laws and regulations that protect privacy
– State public health emergency powers
– Laws regarding freedom of speech, Freedom of Information Act, and Copyright law

CERC: Acronymspdf icon
CERC: Epidemiology Termspdf icon

2014 CERC Manual

The 2014 CERC manual is no longer available in hard copy. You can download a PDF of the 2014 CERC Manual pdf icon[PDF – 11 MB].

Page last reviewed: January 23, 2018