Or how not to make a (potential) problem bigger than it is.
As I write this (Feb. 28), the spread of Covid-19 within the US is still very limited in terms of numbers of confirmed cases. That said, it is already creating a large body of communications lessons to be learned that will remain relevant a month from now.
The stock market has tanked, and people are fearful of what’s next because there is a lot of speculation on worst-case scenarios. Cases are growing worldwide, and the media is uttering the words “will have an impact on the supply chain” every other sentence.
The basic problem with this or any other evolving crisis (be it pandemic, material allocation or natural disaster) is, at the beginning, it can be difficult to assess what will happen. Will this be an H1N1-type event, where business continues with heightened attention to employee health in impacted areas, or will it require the draconian quarantine measures already seen in China that created significant supply-chain disruption? The answers may be unclear for weeks. The natural impulse is to say as little as possible. The problem is when only the media is talking, people imagine worst-case scenarios. Hence the huge selloffs in the stock market.
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