CERC Manual

CDC’s Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) manual is built around psychological and communication sciences, studies in issues management, and practical lessons learned from emergency responses.

CERC Manual Chapters

The CERC manual is intended for public health professionals and public information officers who may need to communicate to the public during an emergency. It can be used in preparation for and in response to an emergency or in support of CERC trainings. The manual contains tools and annotated resources.

CDC responder talking to villagers about Ebola in Liberia.

CERC: IntroductionCdc-pdf
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.

CERC: Psychology of a CrisisCdc-pdf
Last updated 2014

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


A group of communicators watching the filming of a public service announcement.

CERC: Messages and AudiencesCdc-pdf
Last updated 2018

  • Understanding your audiences
  • Making facts work in your message
  • Building credibility and trust
  • Gathering audience feedback


Officials visiting a disaster site.

CERC: Community EngagementCdc-pdf
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

CERC: Crisis Communication PlansCdc-pdf
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.

CERC: SpokespersonCdc-pdf
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.

CERC: Working with the MediaCdc-pdf
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


Two people editing CDC video content about public health.

CERC: Other Communication Channels
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.

CERC: Social Media and Mobile DevicesCdc-pdf
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.

CERC: Terrorism and Bioterrorism Communication ChallengesCdc-pdf
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.

CERC: Human Resources for Crisis CommunicationCdc-pdf
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.

CERC: Understanding the Roles of Federal, State, and Local Community Health PartnersCdc-pdf
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

CERC: Media and Public Health LawCdc-pdf
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


Print Copies of the 2014 CERC Manual

The updated CERC manual is being posted by chapter. There are a limited number of hard copies of the 2014 Manual available upon request. To order a manual, please submit the Order Request Form.Cdc-pdf

Page last reviewed: January 23, 2018