Bob Elliott

PROVIDED Bob Elliott

“Crisis Communications” has been a commonly accepted term in the business world ever since 1982 when there were seven deaths caused by people innocently taking doses of Tylenol laced criminally with cyanide.

Johnson & Johnson, the maker, immediately took every package off the shelves and communicated nationally about the dangers of the product, paid for unused pills and immediately became the poster child for big business’s good behavior in a crisis.

Now, every corporation has a crisis plan which includes instant declarations of the problem, truthful and timely issuance of information on the situation and resolution of the issues at hand.

In this COVID-19 crisis, communications are required as we are risking ourselves and our lives in our actions to survive in the best possible way. We depend on those messages from our national and state leaders to be straight forward and those from our medical professionals to be thoughtful and truthful.

Daily briefings have included a plethora of information although some include larger doses of politics than necessary — I have a friend who says they should be renamed … from daily “Press Conferences” to daily “Press Confrontations.”

Communications plays a big part in the events of our quarantines during this lockdown stay at home existence. Just make a phone call to a single person living at home or a stay-at-home mom and get ready to cut her off after an hour of listening to everything on her mind … and more.

Phone usage is up and computer use is at an all time high since many people are working at home. Some organizations like The Village on the Isle are issuing daily updates citing national, local and propriety information about the crisis. Television stations are ravenous in their appetite for information with an endless list of “expert interviewees” using remote means for interviewing.

There are so many ways we have altered the patterns of communications and socializing in our daily lives. We can longer “bump into” people, have group hugs or cocktail parties.

Everything we hold sacred in developing relationships, sharing thoughts and being close to people are not permitted and social distancing is antithetical to what most of us do as we strive for recognition and individual identity in our lives. In short, social distancing is setting all of us back.

We all strive day-to-day to beat the system. We defeat boredom by making lots of phone calls. The cell phone industry says that calling time is up 30% and many people are working from home stressing out the capacity of the internet. In fact, the emergence of computer and cell phone use has been an unintended rehearsal for living with this tragic pandemic. The good news is that computer communications…email use and the development of Facebook, Tweeter and the many other APPS along with cellphones, have offered up, on a silver platter, the ability for keeping in touch with business colleagues and social friends. The bad news is that these devices are remote and cold substitutes for face-to-face meetings.

However, millions of Americans as well as television networks have been using Zoom, Webex, Skype, Facetime and other means of appearing on camera face-to-face, individually or in groups. There are now very few interviews taking place in taking place in television studios. It is the hope that people have attempted to become more effusive and intimate in these communications. This may be their only opportunity for socializing for a while.

When the world does come back to normal…well the new normal…we’ll have a number of challenges in the way we adjust back to continued restrictions like social distancing.

The main principal to be thinking about is not letting the current experience cast a pall over all that makes people good, our ability to relate to one another and create a sense of community.

Let us make the emergence of the new electronic means of communications…the internet and cellphones…work to enhance our connection to others. It would be a pretty day if everyone made these tools more of a sharing of sentiments, the recollection of great past times and the hope for the future.


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