Swine flu is going to be a big public relations test for the fledgling Obama administration. It’s really the kick-off to our first crisis on a national scale. Forget about pirates and North Korean missile tests, this one is occurring on our continent and has the potential to scare the stuff out of most Americans.
The Center for Disease Control is getting good marks so far, but as surely as the tide rises, the potential deadly impact of the swine flu could flood our cities, towns and rural landscape.
Overreaction is not good, nor needed. Today we are better prepared for the onslaught of a fast spreading influenza than in decades past. But how are we on the public relations front? I think about the Bush Administration and the Hurricane Katrina debacle. Massive national disasters, coupled with inept and inefficient communication, spells trouble for anyone…a president or whomever.
So, here’s an early test for the new Administration and many of the state and local health departments, school systems and health care providers.
It would be foolish to predict the public relations outcomes at such an early stage of this developing story. But like the flu, public relations problems can spread quickly, sometimes effortlessly, and be hard as heck to clear up.