Thursday, October 16, 2014

NPR: Jody Lanard On Addressing Ebola Fears



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I’ve stated before that I believe that my risks of being exposed to Ebola – as an average American not currently involved in patient care – are probably near zero. If I torture some improbable scenario long enough, I suppose I could conjure up some way it could happen, but given my age, weight, and cholesterol levels, I’ve learned to prioritize my concerns.


Of course, a lot of people in this country are worried.


Partly partly because of the `zombie culture’ and `Outbreak & Contagion’  type movies and partly because of the `online conspiracy mongers’ and the tabloid form of journalism that passes for mainstream media these days. And whether or not you think those fears are `rational’ or appropriate for the current situation (granting that the situation could change), these fears are not only very real to them . . . the are also understandable.


I’m seeing a lot of Twitter and Facebook comments blasting people as being `stupid’  for being afraid of contracting Ebola. 


While it may bring some small measure of satisfaction to the critic who is just tired of `hearing it’, calling someone stupid for their fears or beliefs doesn’t have a great track record as being an effective means of education or persuasion. It’s the verbal equivalent of slapping someone who is hysterical – something that only tends to work in the movies.

Bringing some understanding, and sanity, to the issue of acknowledging the public’s fears as being `rational’ – even if they are not supported by the facts – we have a 5 minute interview on NPR radio of Dr. Jody Lanard, a world renown risk communications expert.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

How Rational Are Our Fears Of Ebola?


The constant news updates on Ebola have many people around the U.S. on edge. A new Gallup poll shows that one in four Americans are worried about getting the Ebola virus despite reassurance from medical professionals that the virus is not easily spread.

President Obama said yesterday that he is “absolutely confident that we can prevent a serious outbreak of the disease here in the United States.” So why are so many people afraid of contracting the disease?

Dr. Jody Lanard, a risk communications consultant, has advised the World Health Organization on how to communicate with the public during pandemics.

When it comes to risk communications, Dr. Peter Sandman & Dr. Jody Lanard are both highly sought out experts, and over the years I’ve highlighted their work a number of times (you’ll find a small sampling here, here, here & here) . During a crisis, they not only know what needs to be said, they aren’t afraid to say it.


Their website is an invaluable repository of risk management advice, that quite frankly, should be second home for anyone involved in public relations or risk communications.

Peter Sandman Website logo


Last week I featured three three long email responses to reporters on Ebola Risk communications that are a `must read’.   Rather than try to pick and choose excerpts, I’ll simply invite you to go to their website to read:

Ebola Risk Communication: Talking about Ebola in Dallas, West Africa, and the World

by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard

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