Risk and Crisis Management in the Public Sector
Rumors offer an opportunity for organizations during a crisis. Emergency managers can utilize the opportunity provided by rumors o gain credibility in a public health crisis. In a normal situation, rumors result from an issue that people do not have enough information about. When incomplete information is passed from one person to another, each person tries to complete it in their way. In the process, the information gets distorted, and people end up getting wrong information with a little truth.
Public health rumors are spread by people concerning certain aspects of the health of a community. Sometimes people spread rumors that end up creating a health crisis in the community. At this point, emergency managers have the opportunity to gain credibility by directly rectifying the wrong information. They should do this immediately they learn of the rumors. By providing the right and accurate information, the community will gain trust in them, and their credibility in the community will increase.
Whenever there is a crisis, an immediate action is required. Emergency managers are always sent to respond to crises that result from rumors that are spread by people concerning various community health issues. At such a point the community becomes confused. The only way of solving such a crisis is to the emergency managers presenting a proof of right information to discredit the rumors and end the confusion among people.
Using rumors as an opportunity to gain credibility during a crisis is not unethical. As much as most of the crises are usually at high stake, it is not wrong for the managers to take advantage of the situation. Gaining credibility comes as an added benefit of taking part in the crisis resolution process. The managers execute their duty. They give the required response which is discrediting the rumors by providing facts that the community needs to know. They do not gain credibility at the expense of giving correct information to the public. It comes as a reward, and therefore cannot be regarded as unscrupulous.
Personally, I have had both positive and negative experiences in public health crises. People came up with a lot of rumors concerning infections results from drinking tap water. So many people were in a panic and rushed to hospitals for testing. When our department heard of the rumors we were sent to go and clarify the problem to people. We advised people to take purified water and those who take tap water to ensure that the water is boiled first. We informed people that there was on the outbreak of disease resulting from drinking tap water. However, we also enlightened them on the importance of going for a test. At one point I had a negative experience where rumors were spread, and people had gone for injections for a wrong reason. It took a little bit longer for the rumors to get to our office hence our response came at a time when had already taken the injection. The response we received was not good, and people were not happy with the time we took to respond to the rumors.
Rumors can be a great opportunity for an organization or individuals who want to gain credibility. The organization or individual (s) should respond immediately and provide the right information to the people to avoid any damage or wastage of resources resulting from the rumors. However, if not handled well, rumors during a crisis can cause negative effective.
Risk and Crisis Management in the Public Sector. (2014). doi:10.4324/9781315816456