The Weather Outside is Frightful ❄

buffaloLast week, a cold front swept the nation that broke record numbers. On Tuesday (November 18), the National Weather Service reported that at least one city in all 50 states hit 32 degrees or below, including Hawaii. The same morning, the NWS reported that about 50% of the United States had snow on the ground.

At the center of all the commotion is Buffalo, NY. Tuesday morning, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown declared a state of emergency, which banned all vehicle travel excluding emergency vehicles. Over a 13-mile radius of Interstate 90 and a 37-mile radius of Interstate 190 was shut down. Snow began to fall and before you know it, we’re looking at a Winter Wonderland. This week, Buffalo experienced nearly 6 feet inches of snowfall. It’s predicted that the city is anticipating about 3 more feet over the weekend. This Buffalo Blizzard has claimed at least 7 lives. Most of the deaths were the result of people being trapped in cars or succumbing to health conditions that were exacerbated by the freezing weather and lack of access to healthcare facilities.

So what factors really makes this a crisis?

  • It was unexpected. It seems that the temperature dropped almost overnight.
  • Time is compressed. Things are happening fast, which elicits quick action on the part of city officials. The top priority should be keeping residents safe and warm.
  • There is much ambiguity and uncertainty. While scientists and weather experts can monitor and snowfall and current temperatures, there is ultimately no way to predict how long the snowfall will last or how big of an impact it will have in the end.
  • Nothing is local. Although Buffalo seems to be the city most affected by the cold weather, temperatures are dropping all across the United States.
  • There is intense media scrutiny. A blizzard occurring is one thing. But when the blizzard begins claiming lives, the crisis becomes much more serious requires immediate action.

My advice to everyone is to stay inside and stay warm! Also, keep up with the news and weather reports regarding your area. Conditions may get worse and they may get better. And for those in Buffalo, there are 49 other states that have your back. They don’t call us the United States for nothing.

Sources: http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/19/us/winter-weather/index.html?hpt=hp_t1; http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/11/18/364972644/baby-its-cold-outside-all-50-states-hit-32-degrees

Case Study Analysis: Hurricane Katrina

image_09_11_010_katrina_neworleans_flooded

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in United States history. It caused death and destruction in several states including Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana. New Orleans, Louisiana received the worst damage of the four states and consequently received the most media coverage. There were several telltale prodromes that Hurricane Katrina would pose a crisis situation. These signs included:

  • Leadership miscommunication
  • Mismanagement
  • Massive, mixed media coverage
  • Failure of state officials to create an effective crisis management plan prior to the crisis
  • Inadequate maintenance of the New Orleans levees

Communications and Public Relations professionals can learn several lessons from the Katrina disaster. Here are six of the most important lessons that may have saved thousands of lives and minimized damage:

  1. Possibly the most important lesson is to pay attention to the signs! The National Hurricane Center warned New Orleans’ state officials of levee failure days before the hurricane made landfall. Officials ignored this warning.
  2. Always have alternatives. You should have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C.
  3. Several places should be selected as a crisis command center. All sites should be in different locations to ensure the affected area won’t further hinder crisis communications.
  4. Anticipate and plan for the absolute worst case scenario! It’s always better to be prepared. Just because a crisis has never occurred does not mean it never will!
  5. Monitor all media – this includes radio, television and print. (This keeps you ahead of the story.) Numerous newspapers were reporting on Hurricane Katrina before it even hit.
  6. Never guess statistics! This makes you look uninformed and/or unprepared. The media will eat you alive if they find that your official statement features unofficial numbers and facts.

Crisis Analysis: Ebola in the United States

Belkys Fortune, Teressa Celia

With countless deaths in African countries and a number of reported cases in the United States, the Ebola virus has propped up its feet on our coffee tables and made itself at home.

The virus has claimed the life of Thomas Duncan, a Texas man, making him the first Ebola death in the U.S. since the outbreak began months ago. Subsequently, two Texas nurse’s that treated Duncan have undergone treatment for Ebola. (One has even been sent to the Center for Disease Control [CDC] headquarters in Atlanta.) Since these events, Texas Governor Rick Perry has held a press conference owning up to the mistakes that led to the spread of the virus, calling them “unacceptable”. Currently, a number of counties are being quarantined in Dallas, Texas and surrounding areas to combat further spread of the virus. In fact, I was recently on the phone with one of my close friends who lives in the Dallas area and she was telling me that people are walking around town with masks on. They are not taking the Ebola scare lightly.

From a Public Relations standpoint, the scariest part about the Ebola outbreak is not contracting the disease, because medical professionals have made it clear that it is curable and full recovery is possible (with adequate resources). Perhaps the most frightening part is being unclear and uneducated about how it is spread. Here’s the truth behind a few Ebola Myths to keep you in the loop:

  1. Myth: Ebola can be contracted. through the air.
    Truth: Ebola isn’t transmitted through the air. It is transmitted through direct contact by bodily fluids with an infected person – direct touching that involves bodily fluids such as blood, sweat, feces, vomit, semen or spit.
  2. Myth: Water kills the Ebola virus.
    Truth: Soap and water kills the Ebola virus. So does chlorine, alcohol and bleach, according to experts. One of the most important preventive measures is frequent hand-washing.
    Mayo Clinic
  3. Myth: Banning flight travel will stop the spread of the disease.
    Truth: Similar bans were used during the SARS and Swine Flu viruses. Experts say that NO ban will completely stop people moving about the world.

Source: CNN

Ray Rice vs. NFL

Ray-Rice-wife-presserOne of the most recent immediate crises making national headlines is the case of football star Ray Rice. Footage of Rice punching his then fiance Janay Palmer (now his wife) and knocking her unconscious in an elevator has been released. The footage was not obtained by the National Football League (NFL), but by TMZ, a celebrity gossip site. Originally, the Baltimore Ravens suspended Rice for only two games. Since then, the NFL has responded by terminating his contract with the Ravens and suspending him from the NFL indefinitely.

When discussing this crisis, there are a number of factors to consider:

  • Establishing a timeline. The incident occurred 7 months ago, in February 2014. Has the NFL known about the incident since then? Determining whether or not the NFL had knowledge of the incident is a key part of its response to the crisis.
  • Determining what role the NFL played in the leak. Did the NFL have access to the footage prior to its leak? According to TMZ creator Harvey Levin, the NFL not only had knowledge of the incident when it occurred in February (he was indicted for third-degree assault in March), but also had access to the footage, although Commissioner Roger Goodell did not even seek it out.
  • Janay Rice’s role in the incident. Did the fact that Janay decided to go through with marriage only a month after the incident have anything to do with how “lightly” the situation was originally handled by the NFL?

In my opinion, there is enough blame to go around for everyone. Ray & Janay Rice (and their attorneys) knew about the incident and should have been preparing for a Public Relations nightmare ever since. (It is clear that they did not anticipate Rice’s career-ruining outcome.)
The NFL should be held to a much more scrupulous standard. Whether Commissioner Goodell had seen the footage or not, he knew about the incident because Rice was indicted for it months ago. The NFL could have accessed this video and addressed it immediately after the incident occurred. At the very least, a statement should have been released that the NFL was investigating the details of the incident, punishing Rice accordingly and assuring the public that they have a zero tolerance policy for players involved in domestic violence issues. Domestic violence is a serious issue, so there would likely be an uproar regardless of the NFL’s actions. However, they could have easily began managing the crisis in the Pre-Crisis stage, before it gained national coverage and blew up in their faces. Had they taken the horse by the reins, the NFL would not be dealing with such backlash. At this point, public opinion of the NFL is not only that they are slow to respond to immediate issues, but that they withhold information to save the NFL’s reputation and the reputation of its players.

Georgia Southern University Participates in No Impact Week 2014

By Briana Davis and Adrienne Glover, fundmulti@georgiasouthern.edu.

Georgia Southern University Participates in No Impact Week 2014

Georgia Southern University is celebrating No Impact Week 2014 from April 13 to April 19, 2014. No Impact Week includes activities for every designated day of the week: Sunday is Consumption Day; Monday is Trash Day; Tuesday is Food Day; Wednesday is Transportation Day; Thursday is Energy Day; Friday is Water Day and Saturday is Giving Back.

No Impact Week is a based on Colin “No Impact Man” Beaven’s No Impact Experiment living a low sustainability lifestyle for a year in New York City. Schools and universities modeled the No Impact Experiment by transforming it into a week-long “carbon-cleanse”. The activities are designed to decrease environmental impact. 

“We show people how to be more sustainable and how we can have less of an impact on the planet and on our university,” the Center for Sustainability’s Graduate Assistant Christina Beslin said.

Center for Sustainability Supports the Cause

Georgia Southern’s Center for Sustainability aims to increase education and awareness of on-campus and community sustainability issues. For each day of No Impact Week the Center for Sustainability sets up activities for students to participate in.

These activities include sustainability exhibits, a Lunar Eclipse viewing, a community bike ride, an Earth Day celebration and a display of Georgia Southern’s ecological footprint. Most of the activities are held at the rotunda and offer giveaways such as t-shirts and food.

Farmer’s Market

The No Impact Week activity that attracts the most people is the on-campus Farmer’s Market. Here students can buy locally grown, organic fruits, vegetables and meals. Hunter Cattle was one of the many vendors at the Food Day Farmer’s Market. The company prepares grass-fed beef, pastured pork and free-range chicken and eggs.

“I only came to the Farmer’s Market to look around. I ended up buying a burger from Hunter Cattle that made me want to come back,” Senior Alecia Tyler said.

 Students can register for No Impact Week individually or with their University here.

An Ode To Spring Break 2K14: Best & Worst Hangover Foods

Image

For some, yesterday was the first official day of Spring Break 2014. Others were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, a.k.a. one of very few days you get a free pass for getting extremely drunk and making bad decisions. It’s kind of a big deal in the college world. If your night was anything like mine, you’re just waking up and you’ll need this whenever you decide to make that dreadful trip to the kitchen: Greatist’s List for the Best & Worst Hangover Foods. You’re welcome 🙂

My Favorite Super Bowl Ad

Although Coca Cola’s “America the Beautiful” ad has been the most controversial, it was my personal favorite Super Bowl XLVIII advertisement. While some are outraged that Coca Cola, a staple in American culture, has embraced all of the cultures that make America diverse, I thought the commercial was incredible. Why do we call it the “land of the free” and the “home of the brave” if not everyone is free to express their culture and we’re not brave enough to accept America for the melting pot that it is? Is diversity not what makes America worth celebrating?

The National Anthem itself was an ode to America. It was sang, in its diverse languages, beautifully. Not to mention I absolutely loved the gay couple. To some this ad represents a harsh reality; but to me, the ad represents the 2014 America. I think this was Coke’s big “F U” to the world. They knew it was a risk to air the ad during the most watched television event of the year, and they went for it. I think that’s (for a lack of better terms) freaking awesome for Coke. To me, it was the most accurate portrayal of America today.

At the end of the day, Coke’s loyal customers aren’t going anywhere after one Super Bowl advertisement. One 60-second ad will not erase the last 100+ years they’ve been building consumer relationships. It doesn’t matter what God you serve, what you believe or how you dress – Coca Cola brings us all together. That’s what the commercial is about. Every culture should appreciate that.