12.1 This Communications Strategy has outlined what will happen in the event of an outbreak. However, there are a range of measures that can be put in place in advance of an outbreak that will help in the Strategy's implementation.
12.2 It is essential to develop an understanding of how other organisations will respond in an outbreak. Scottish Government, APHA, other administrations, operational partners and key industry stakeholders exercise together regularly to test contingency plans and procedures. As well as rehearsing the functions that would be delivered, these exercises provide an opportunity to test the Communications Strategy and identify any issues or gaps. Building a clear mutual understanding of roles and responsibilities helps foster a co-ordinated approach to communications in the event of a disease outbreak.
Engagement with stakeholders
12.3 During any disease outbreak, information will enter the public domain from a variety of sources and much of this will flow from stakeholder organisations. These bodies have an important role in reinforcing Scottish Government messages, as well as communicating to their own members and audiences. The Scottish Government's Animal Health and Welfare Division has well established and clear lines of communication with Scottish stakeholder groups and is committed to two-way communications with stakeholders.
12.4 Stakeholders have an important role to play during an outbreak in terms of supporting the disease response, as well as communicating messages to their own members and audiences. Advance notice allows them to prepare internally and activate their own contingency procedures, as well as giving them access to essential information. Failing to engage with all stakeholders in the early stages of a disease outbreak could hinder the response efforts. Therefore, it is essential to identify the target audiences, the level of information they require and the best ways of communicating with them. A communications matrix (see Appendix A) has been included to help ensure that communications are tailored to the relevant audiences and delivered by the most appropriate means.
12.5 When conducting post-outbreak wash-ups, it is important to get the views of all who were involved in disease control, consequence management and communication activities, including those of stakeholders. This will allow all involved to identify issues relevant to their own strategies, and see how individual approaches to communications complemented those of other organisations. The issues/lessons identified allow all involved to identify improvements and refine their respective communications plans.
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