A Discussion on Digital Media & Communication Trends
It amazes me how in crisis people can choose to do nothing. It is almost as if we are frozen. The seemingly benign and unimportant issues take the forefront. Perhaps that is because these are the issues that are easier for humans to deal with then the raw, emotional and truly heartbreaking concerns. I see it in personal experiences as well as in corporate communications.
Recently, my family dealt with a difficult emergency medical situation. We had lots of well wishes and people asking us what we needed. All of these were appreciated. To be honest though, I didn’t know what we needed. In the midst of the crisis my neighbor did something amazing. As the ambulance pulled up, he walked into the house took a key from our back door and said, “Don’t worry about the dogs, I’ll take care of them.” To have someone just do something that they thought was needed meant the world to me.
In the movie Contagion, (Warning: do not eat before you see this movie – seriously!) I saw the same human response to a crisis. People questioned what to do, but information dissemination between the federal and local governments did not occurring. People did not know how the disease was spreading, what they could do to stop it, and they had little access to the medicine necessary to prevent/control the infection. The result was inaccurate assumptions circulating enabling people to continually make bad decisions. “Nothing spreads like fear.” It made you want to scream at the CDC, both local and federal governments and other organization – JUST DO SOMETHING! Anything would have been better then the laborious operational and financial discussions that were occurring.
Similar to Contagion, large companies like BP often stall, stutter and do nothing when crisis hits. There are lots of right ways to approach crisis communication. The one thing both interpersonal and corporate communications has taught me of late is that action is better than the best delayed plan. And if I had to guess, I bet action is just as contagious as fear.
Read More in the Crisis Communication Series: