PR Connection: Swine Flu

As the swine flu epidemic begins to sweep across the North American continent, people are beginning to get into a frenzy because they do not even know what the disease does. Watching Sportscenter last week, soccer games where played in 100,000 seat stadiums with not a soul in attendance. There are pictures all over the internet of people walking through the streets of Mexico City, which only causes more of a ruckus. The job of controlling this world wide panic falls on the public relations teams of the various health organizations and countries who are involved and affected. They have been doing a good job so far to try and get the details of the disease and to calm the public that not everyone is at risk. They have made it clear that the disease is not passed on through food, so that alone calmed millions. This is a classic case of crisis control, trying to keep under control the reaction to some unexpected, unfortunate event. This case is unusually hard to handle because it crosses both national and language barriers. The message that they are trying to get across has to be given in multiple languages, and also considering various cultural values that are being affected. They have to make sure not to step on anybody’s “toes” when they make press releases, while at the same time making sure that they put out all of the necessary information that the audience needs to here to make sure that they take the proper precautions to keep themselves and their families safe.

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