Zika, Puerto Rico and a Test in Issues Management

August 3, 2016

[afp/getty images]
[afp/getty images]

Though I spend most of my days leading social media workshops, teaching or providing clients with digital communications counsel, there are some things about traditional media I won’t give up.

Topping the list is the print edition of the Sunday New York Times. It’s something I look forward to and enjoy over a coffee or three.

One weekend in March, when I opened the paper, my eye was drawn to an above-the-fold headline: “Puerto Rico Braces for Its Own Zika Epidemic.”

Normally, I might read this because it’s a feature story, but this time I had vested interest. I chair PRSA’s Counselors Academy (CAPRSA), and our annual conference was planned for San Juan, Puerto Rico, in May.

The ominous headline made me wonder if that was still a good idea.

The story painted a grim and foreboding scenario. I noticed it was being shared on social media. And we began getting emails from members asking how we were dealing with the situation.

This wasn’t the first time Counselors faced the Zika virus. We’d been monitoring the situation since January and had produced key messages informing our members we were on top of it.

But this article altered the landscape. We had no idea what the repercussions might be.

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