A call to action through education
The longer crises are allowed to go on without definitive action being taken, the more damage is caused. When you have events like the current Ebola outbreak, that involve not one individual or organization, but many, the response becomes far more complex. In a continuation of its tried-and-true tactic of crisis management through education, the CDC sent its director on a media blitz, where he spread powerful statements like those below, from a CBS News article, to large national audiences:
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the Ebola epidemic is “spiraling out of control” and is likely to get worse. Frieden has just returned from West Africa, where he toured areas affected by the outbreak.
Speaking on Tuesday with “CBS This Morning” from CDC’s Atlanta headquarters, Frieden said it’s critical now more than ever to help the countries where Ebola has taken hold.
“There is still a window of opportunity to tamp it down, but that window is closing. We really have to act now,” Frieden told CBS News. “Too many places are sealing off these countries. If we do that, paradoxically, it’s going to reduce safety everywhere else. Whether we like it or not, we’re all connected and it’s in our interest to help them tamp this down and control it.”
Later, in a news conference at the CDC, Frieden said that while the situation is dire, it is not hopeless. “The countries are engaged, they’re willing to stop it,” he said. “They need the world to work with them. This isn’t just these countries’ problems, it’s a global problem.”
Knowing what a hairy task it can be simply to get a room full of company leadership to focus on one goal and take action together, we certainly don’t envy Dr. Frieden’s position, but we do send him, and the many professionals and volunteers conducting crisis management for this global health risk, our respect.
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, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]