Over the weekend, the Obama administration declared a “public health emergency” in response to the current outbreak, mostly in Mexico, of the swine flu. Of course we don’t have a surgeon general yet and the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an acting director. So that’s one PR nightmare. But I’m wondering what the communication departments in hospitals, airline companies, and others around the country are doing to prepare.
Experts are warning that a real outbreak could deepen the recession, putting a real dent in tourism, for instance. I hate to say it, but this is another good reason for companies to hold on to their PR departments/vendors. Who besides certain scientists would have predicted this public health concern?
Associated Press quoted Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, who warned that if the flu continues to spread and causes deaths in the U.S., an economic recovery may not occur until sometime in 2010. How will you respond to this?
Your firm and/or the clients you represent may have nothing to do with swine flu, but it’s important to raise the issue by asking how this outbreak, if it becomes more widespread, will affect business.
Most people who are good at PR know about the interconnectedness of seemingly disparate areas. But the ones who are really good are those who can predict with some startling accuracy how those connections will impact their customers/clients.
If your client is spa and wellness center, for example, you want to anticipate how customers might react to a flu outbreak. Perhaps there are certain precautions that can be taken.
The point is this: asking questions should happen every single day. It is absolutely essential that we try to have the answers or at least know where to go and find them. But asking questions, pushing each other to think in ways that might make us uncomfortable, well, that’s just as important.