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During an Event: Preparing an Advisory

Develop, Format, and Translate the Message

Icon Key

tool icon Tools and Templates

resources icon Resources

Use the information gathered in identifying the situation to develop the message. Use tools, such as the Message Mapping Templatetool icon [DOC - 1 page] and the Sample Message Maptool icon [DOC - 1 page] and the Single Overriding Communication Objective (SOCO) Worksheet.tool icon [DOC - 2 pages]

Unless a state requires specific templates, revise the order and content of these templates based on the local circumstances. Remember to include the 10 required elements from the Public Notification Rule.

Understand the translation needs of your community. Use community partners or professional translation services to translate the message. Avoid using online dictionaries or other computer software.

Community partners are responsible for producing the message in formats that people they serve can read and understand, such as Braille, large font, or text messages.

Abbreviated Messages

Some channels of communication only allow for brief messages because of time or space constraints. Brief messages are appropriate for:

  • On-screen scroll (local televised news, cable television, public service television channels, Emergency Broadcast System announcements).
  • Text message systems (SMS).
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter).
  • Reverse 911 phone message systems.
  • Highway variable message signs and portable message boards.

See the Automated Messagestool icon [DOC - 3 pages] tool.

Abbreviated Message Template— Boil Water Advisory

The [water utility name] is asking customers to boil tap water or use bottled water. For more information, go to [] or call [###-###-####].

Message Development

The information on which to base the advisory can be captured in the Information for Communication Planningtool icon [DOC - 1 page] tool. The Required Elements of a Public Notice outlines the questions and information the drinking water advisory must address in its materials. Key Questions for the Public Information Officertool icon [DOC - 1 page] may help in preparation for working with the media.

Approve the Advisory

Once the message has been developed and produced in appropriate formats, follow your communication SOP to have management approve the advisory.

Identify the Spokespersons

The person to serve as a spokesperson during a drinking water advisory can come from water system management or from an outside partner agency, such as a public health department. The spokesperson should be someone in authority who is honest, credible, competent, accessible, and sensitive to public concerns.

Follow the communication protocols discussed in Section 1 and use essential information to prepare spokespersons for interacting with the public and media. See Basic Elements of a Spokesperson Statement.tool icon [DOC - 1 page] If there is not a designated spokesperson, assess staff options and identify an individual to fill this role. See Spokesperson Assessment Tool.tool icon [DOC - 1 page]

Assign Communication Responsibilities

Exchanging information and developing materials, such as news releases, among partners and water systems must be a coordinated effort. Liaisons should be designated staff who are the communication link for issuing an advisory and also for updating and lifting the advisory. Each organization or water system involved in an advisory should identify a liaison. Work with your partners to assign specific communication roles and responsibilities. Develop a list that identifies who (which partner) will be contacting whom (a specific audience) and when that contact will occur.

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