This is Not a Drill – Communications Planning in a Time of Pandemic – Part 2

PandemicShot Yesterday on May 5, my colleague Christina Pearson – a senior vice president with my employer Fleishman-Hillard and I were joined by Kim Elliott from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and together held a Webinar – This is Not a Drill – Communications Planning in a Time of Pandemic.   Christina is the former Deputy Secretary for Public Affairs at Health and Human Services. 

In 2006, Fleishman-Hillard was joined by TFAH in staging a forum for businesses on communications planning in a time of pandemic.  Now, three years later, a great deal has changed, particularly with respect to communications – particularly considering digital communications. 

The Webinar had a great turnout, but for those who missed it, Fleishman-Hillard has made available the recording of This is Not a Drill.  Note, however, if you do not have the most recent version of Microsoft Windows Media Player.  

Every single government agency as well as companies and non-profits need to be digitally literate and competent in a time of pandemic.  That is the point I raise in the Webinar.  

The CDC  has exhibited a good deal of savvy in employing digital media during the crisis – providing updates on Twitter and on its YouTube channel (though there is some confusion as the CDC created a special channel for flu called cdcflu and has only put one video on it – favoring instead its other channel CDCStreamingHealth.  They have also created widgets.  And they are active on Twitter.   The CDC has done a good job, and can do an even better one. 

The FDA is not nearly as sophisticated in terms of digital.  They did create a great widget for the peanut recall.  Their only Twitter account is for food recalls.  And their YouTube channels are all confusing and unorganized.  They have a long way to go.   FDA also needs to clarify its position on pharmaceutical company employment of digital in a way that makes the med/reg departments of pharma feel that it is safe in using these tools even in pandemic planning.  The way it is now, FDA's actions have only brought confusion.  That is one thing on a marketing front, it is entirely another when public health is at stake.  Pharmaceutical companies are going to have to communicate with their stakeholders – i.e. patients and doctors – in a time of pandemic crisis during extreme social distancing, but the unwarranted position taken by FDA with the issuance of the infamous 14 letters has made that all but impossible.  Since then, they have refused to clarify their position, justify it, or invite public input into policy.  

Enjoy the Webinar.  

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