Follow-the-sun protocol

Follow-the-sun is a method of interdependent working in which responsibility for global emergency communications coordination passes between CI Secretariat communications, CARE USA, and CARE Australia according to working hours in different time zones. From 09:00-18:00 Central European Time, CI Secretariat communications is responsible for global emergency communications coordination; when responsibility transfers to the Media Advisor at CARE Australia or the Director of Communications at CARE USA under the follow-the-sun protocol, they will then be referred to as the ‘Office-in-Charge for global emergency communications coordination’.

The Office-in-Charge will fulfil the duties of CI Secretariat communications, including to:

  • Help coordinate, arrange and manage requests from across the membership in terms of media interviews with our allocated spokespeople and log media interviews
  • Monitor and keep an eye on the relevant news coming out on the crisis in case of any issues/opportunities
  • As/where needed help follow up on getting new content, updating talking points and developing media releases on the situation while other members are asleep
  • Ensure spokespeople are briefed of any changes in talking points/sensitivities
  • Provide feedback to spokespeople where needed
  • Provide a daily end of day update to the email chain on the what’s been done/what needs to be handed over in terms of media and any other content, as well as any other issues that may have arisen during your timezone that are relevant for others to be aware of.

The follow-the-sun protocol applies seven days a week. NOTE: CI Secretariat communications retains the authority at all times to intervene if needed or mediate any differences of opinion regarding communications coordination in emergencies.

A COMWG contact list can be found here.


Time (Central European Time) Office-in-charge for global emergency communications coordination
9:00-18:00 CI Secretariat – Geneva/London
18:00-00:00 USA – Washington DC/New York
00:00-09:00 Australia – Melbourne

Example of follow-the-sun in practice: If an earthquake hits the Philippines (where CARE USA is the Lead Member) at 05:00 Central European Time (23:00 New York time, and 13:00 Melbourne time), it is the responsibility of the CARE Australia media team as the Office-in-Charge for global emergency communications coordination to coordinate emergency communications and produce communications materials on behalf of the confederation, until CI Secretariat communications takes over communications coordination at 09:00 CET. At 18:00 CET, CI Secretariat communications passes the role of Office-in-Charge to CARE USA.

NOTE: If it is a large disaster with high casualty rates, and/or high media interest and/or extensive damage, the first office to hear of the disaster is to call CI Secretariat communications OR the CI Humanitarian Director immediately, regardless of the time.