This past Sunday I was watching and listening to DHS and HHS officials talk about the Swine Flu Alert. During the announcement I found it interesting that Secretary Napolitano made a special point to clarify the declaration of emergency by saying she wished they could call it a declaration of emergency preparedness, because that is really what it is in this context.
I agree with Secretary Napolitano that a declaration of emergency preparedness is needed because most organizations are not well prepared for a Pandemic flu outbreak….but that is another topic for another day.
Then I came across a headline on CNN about Twitter causing controversy as some of the Twitter micro-blogging is propagating fear, unnecessary hype and misinformation about the outbreak while others comment that the Twitter buzz is a good sign that people are talking about the issue.
No matter what you think about Twitter, everyone using Twitter has a megaphone to use however they want.
So, are there any Lessons Learned involving megaphones? Remember what happened when Orson Welles went on the radio in October 1938 and presented a series of simulated news bulletins that suggested an actual Martian invasion was in progress? The radio show created panic and widespread outrage with some calling the event cruelly deceptive.
So, what happens if an ‘Orson Welles’ or terrorists decided to use Twitter to create panic or spread hype and misinformation about the outbreak? Is your organization prepared to address rumors, hype and misinformation from Twitter and other megaphones?
What happens if your employees stayed home from work because of misinformation?
What happens if ‘bad guys’ or ‘competition’ use Twitter to create panic with your customers and your partners?
Does your organization have a way to securely communicate accurate and sensitive information with your employees? With your partners?
Can your organization ensure integrity and accountability for information at the individual level?
Lessons Learned clearly show megaphones can create complex problems and megaphone management is a dangerous trend that is creating expensive and massive “pains” for organizations of all sizes.
In today’s world of megaphones, organizations need tools that can deliver the right information to the right people in the right place at the right time with accountability and auditability.