This commentary argues that the United States government needs a better, deliberate crisis communication strategy.
Public communication surrounding COVID-19 has been haphazard and highlights the need for government to coordinate messaging. Globally, there is a great-power competition intertwined with the crisis, and by being more responsive to messaging opportunities and coordinating effective countermeasures, the United States could compete with China and Russia. By focusing on the domestic crisis, the U.S. has missed an opportunity to coordinate and communicate with international allies and partners. Because there is no cohesive narrative and strategy, the U.S. government is unable to effectively compete with Russia and China in the information environment. Senior leadership has yet to develop a cohesive message that does not directly contradict itself. An effective crisis management communication strategy would allow the U.S. government to proactively engage and communicate during crises and not need to start from scratch each time a cohesive message is needed. Existing governmental organizations and positions already exit to develop this strategy, and they need to be properly resourced, supported, and held accountable.