Weekly News Update: A Convenient Communication Tool. J. Harris, Health Canada
A simple email communication tool "Weekly News Update" has been developed to apprise management and staff at three Health Canada research facilities in Ontario and Quebec, Canada about items in the media that pertain to their areas of interest or authority. The update is distributed weekly and contains published news stories and press releases about food safety and/or infectious diseases of humans and animals. It includes hot links to background and further information. This update serves three purposes: to inform laboratory staff of current affairs, for their general interest, education and use in daily work; to allow risk communicators to prepare for issues about which they may receive inquiries from the public or from the press; and to provide background and contact information to risk managers who must formulate policies on various topics. This tool is very attractive to its audience for several reasons. The first is that the information is contained within the body of the email, negating the need for attachments. The second is that the information is organized by subject each consisting of a drop-down table. The reader simply clicks on a subject of interest, and the table is displayed. The third is that each entry is concise, usually one sentence, containing the essential information. The fourth is that hot links are provided if the reader would like more information. Feedback from management and staff has been extremely positive so far. Readers find this service very valuable. Currently the update is created using the email software, Lotus Notes, and is therefore only available to Lotus Notes users. It has been suggested that the readership be expanded to additional audiences. Future work on this service will include preparing the information in an HTML or other format suitable for all email systems.
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