A crash course in changing the world.
When I read the title, I thought, "Awesome, I got this one!". I've got so much to say about crisis communication, as I experienced firsthand what happens when it is deficient or breaks down after the tsunami in Thailand and Hurricane Katrina.
Then I read the article on the five secrets of crisis communication, and it was both boring and just about how irresponsibly the press inflate the risk of pandemics and cause panics. Which is obvious, and not what I can offer any insight on.
So I'm going to ignore that and talk about REAL crises like disasters and the breakdowns in communication that occur.
For starters, the media screws it up every time. They go with the most bombastic, headline grabbing aspect of the disaster, but do a TERRIBLE job of conveying the actual needs of people being affected. It is essential that first responders communicate more effectively to the media about the needs of people, and regularly update those needs as the situation changes.
All it takes is one reference to the need for water, and then all of a sudden there are millions of bottles of water. Lord help the people in the disaster zone if they ask for clothes or canned food. Before they know it, a bunch of people in a sweltering heat wave will get a load of used parkas and snow jackets from the Midwest, or hungry people will get a bunch of spoiled canned food with no can openers.
You might think I'm just being cynical, but I personally witnessed and had to dispose of truckloads of unwanted used clothing and spoiled canned goods. Its absolutely essential in crises that the real needs of people on the ground are communicated to well intentioned donors so that what is sent reflects what is requested.