Jim Schutze and I recorded a podcast yesterday afternoon in which we discuss the city’s reaction to the Ebola crisis (and DISD stuff). It’s very timely. It’s also sitting in the trunk of my girlfriend’s car, somewhere in her office parking garage. Since I won’t be able to get the pod up until tomorrow, here’s an example of one item we discussed: How officials have learned to temper their confidence, and how doing so actually inspires more confidence in the public.
Remember what Mayor Mike Rawlings said eight days ago:
Rawlings said that he remains “confident in the abilities of our health care professionals and the medical advances in the United States and reassure you we will stop the Ebola virus in its tracks from spreading into our community.”
“Stop the Ebola virus in its tracks” is pretty strong. City councilman Philip Kingston disagreed, later telling the DMN this:
“If you keep assuring people that everything’s going to be fine, and it continues to not be fine, you start to lose people’s confidence.”
The mayor did not enjoy this quote. In fact, according to another source, the mayor on Monday yelled at Kingston in public for undermining his message of calm (an incident that Kingston reluctantly confirmed).
Now Rawlings seems to have come around to Kingston’s message strategy. In today’s edition, the mayor tells the paper:
“I am not trying to mislead individuals and say that everything is going to be just perfect right now. That’s the worst mistake you can make. But on the other hand, I’m not trying to say the world is coming to an end.”
For others who have to deal with this crisis, learn from this approach. It’s a more realistic — and therefore more calming — message. Further discussion of this to come when I can get my hands on said pod.