Armando Liussi

About flu and the spread of news

Monday, September 21st, 2009 - Ref. BMJ | Universia | Dr. Juan Gérvas
High profile flu

Talking about flues

Nothing better than been under a flu state to start an article about it. Well, about flu and media.

As a easy comparison, it´s so profitable the fact to live expatriate a couple of seasons in order to acquire foreign cultures´ knowledge -our corporate DNA claim- than analysis done from our minor daily experiences. My flu made me collect and read many articles over this and other flues and hence this reflection has emerged in media communication, and the probable lack of crisis management plans related to this high profile flu -on media-, which is coming in a brief.

Surely, ending this text and get 100% well will go hand in hand, so here we go.

What about on that has already happened?

Beginning southern summer and new northern winter, now appear three conclusions about swine flu development, as a colophon of other hemisphere´s facts:

  1. High profiled diseases are the cause of new cultural stages affecting companies operations, beyond the actual spread of the disease.
  2. Crisis management planning goes top as a priority to reduce media exposure, especially on a corporate leaderless probability.
  3. Pandemic diseases bring public actors into corporate reality, with no past precedents.

Clearly close to the information treatment of bird flu, influenza A (swine flu, N1H1) has a number of morbid components such as illness, death, pandemia, poverty, crisis in addition to trivial components of “current events” as being global, as its recognition by the institutions and even, the interest in strains mutated. And so there is an annoying media noise, with figures and facts in an adulterated mixture forced to connect, just to “ride the waves” of the news. And therefore impacts on public opinion-at least-causing strain, whose social involvement may end up creating collateral damage health such as stress, insomnia, despair, fear.

With the likely exposure of the company to these collateral damage, I suggest therefore to take planning of communication actions a truly cost cutting initiative. Especially, seeing the economic implication suggested by some recent reports. Just need to add more stress factors as the financial crisis (perhaps political), or as the known Spanish effect called “holidays ending syndrome” and we´ll see that there are many elements to take seriously those preventive issues.

But turning again into the reality, over the past few years, crisis management planning has appeared to be strategic, coming from a embryonic Communication´s document. But this Plan is usually far of be known and less, been probed. We deeply know that this is one of the unfinished businesses of many mid-sized companies in Spain and Latin-American.

There in the South hemisphere we can found two contrasting examples of crisis management, on their countries Administrations, but with corporate implications: the management case in Argentina (with absolute panic and disorder) and the one from Australia (all about organization and efficiency). In the first case, denying the facts being overwhelmed by them, with the loss credibility in institutions.

In the second one, they contain and understand the pandemic flu as what it is (influenza A is a benign disease, with lower mortality than seasonal flu), carrying out actions under strict crisis management plan.

Rather than deny a flu variation, we must remember to focus on what we played: the operation of the company. And, since the praxis and ethics, we have to deal on ending unhealthy myths.

Australia ABC News: Victoria 'losing control' of swine flu spread
BMJ: Australia's swine flu vaccination plans come under fire
Universia: Universidades argentinas ante la Gripe A
Perfil: Gripe A: Argentina es el segundo país con más muertes

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