The nation is gripped by the 2009 H1N1 flu, or swine flu. And unfortunately, we at San Diego State have been affected more than most because we have a student who, as of this writing, has been diagnosed as a probable case of swine flu. In a situation like this, where rumors travel fast and most of the time they are untrue or unfounded, we took a proactive approach in informing and educating our campus community about the situation. I’ve got a little quiet time right now and am able to reflect a little about what we have been able to accomplish, from a communications standpoint, in less than 48 hours.
- We created a web site for Urgent Campus Information that is the central location for all things related to this issue. The site can also be reused in the future in the event of another emergency.
- We pulled together a press conference, attended by 11 media outlets, recorded the entire press conference and posted it on YouTube.
- We have drafted and distributed two campus-wide emails and several other communications to specific audiences.
- We have been interviewed 11 times for local television (aside from the press conference) and we have provided faculty experts to speak to the media doing a variety of stories about swine flu.
- We’ve also interviewed some of those same faculty experts for our own stories on the issue, including Facts about swine flu and what SDSU’s public health grad students are learning from this.
- We’ve also been very active on Twitter, sending our updates, monitoring what people are saying and correcting rumors and misinformation. And of course we’ve shared our stories and updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. as well.
In a situation like this you don’t have a lot of time to plan. You rely on plans you have already developed, past experiences and instincts. And you remain flexible and willing and able to change course at a moment’s notice.
We’ve recieved a lot of good feedback and nice comments on our response, and we truly appreciate that. I think we’ve created a pretty good template that others can follow and, hopefully when this is all over, we’ll be able to share a little more about what we’ve learned. Our entire team is “on call” and ready to react and respond to whatever happens next. In the meantime, we’re all washing and santizing our hands.