The U.S. government's presentation of its progess on producing a swine flu vaccine will likely become a case study in poor risk communication. The feds promised what they haven't come anywhere close to delivering -- an ample supply of swine flu vaccine at the height of the flu season.
Associated Press reports, "The federal government originally promised 120 million doses of swine flu vaccine by now. Only 13 million have come through."
Producing a new flu vaccine is subject to unpredictable problems. Why make a strong, reassuring prediction in the face of possible problems? That's a cardinal rule of what not to do for effective risk communication.
How could the Health and Human Services Department have gotten that botched? We'd suggest the HHS folks join with the Food and Drug Administration in its new commitment to a risk communication plan.
Meanwhile, from the Healthy Influence blog, here's a nifty list of rules for effective communication under pressure.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.