E.coli Crisis

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    Low marks for Germany in crisis management case

    Europe has been struggling with a virulent E.coli outbreak which appears to have originated and is most severe in Germany. With accusations flying back and forth between several countries during the initial stages, crisis management was slow to get started, and less than effective once it did, as the opinions of the populace show. A quote, from a Reuters article:

    In a survey of 1,003 people by pollsters Forsa, 58 percent of respondents considered Berlin’s crisis management in what is the deadliest outbreak of the bacteria in modern history as less than satisfactory or poor.

    Only 31 percent of those surveyed were satisfied with the government’s information policy during the outbreak, according to the poll, published by Stern magazine.

    More than 3,200 people have so far been taken ill with the E.coli strain, about a quarter of them developing a complication called haemolytic uraemic syndrome, which affects the blood, kidneys and nervous system.

    Poll results are always ugly in the midst of crises, but when an outbreak continues to expand after the cause has been discovered, clearly the opinion that the government’s information policy was weak is well-founded. One of government’s primary roles is to disseminate information to the public, so there’s no excuse for not having a crisis management policy in place and ready for action.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.]