If wishes were horses, beggars would ride . . .
And, if wishes were cures, Covid-19 would no longer be threatening us.
Sadly, both statements are fairy tales, albeit from different times and places. The first, written almost 400 years ago, came from Scotland. The second, just written a few days ago, could have been written anywhere in the world. The distressing and disheartening fact is that Covid-19, despite what some people would like to believe, is not yet just an historic footnote. It's still a very real and dire threat facing all of us.
In the three years since Covid-19 came on the scene and shut down the world, there have been more than 770 million cases of Covid-19 reported worldwide and 6,956,160 deaths due to Covid-19. Beyond that, medical authorities are still reporting roughly 500,000 new cases of Covid-19 every week. But, many people don't realize it because Covid no longer dominates the news the way it once did. Daily and weekly Covid updates from state governors and health authorities have been discontinued and very little Covid news is now being reported.
So, it's not over, but we've definitely moved into in a new phase of the Covid crisis. Amazing vaccines, including new and updated versions which directly target new and emerging variants of Covid, have been developed and are widely available, often free of charge. And, they've produced dramatic decreases in the rate of fatalities and serious illness among those whose vaccinations are up to date. But, some people still refuse to be vaccinated, and tens of thousands still contract Covid, become critically ill, and die, all the while opposing factions are shouting, "Abolish Covid protocols and return to normal social practices!" or conversely, "Be careful out there: mask up and social distance."
Under such conditions, it's no longer possible for conscientious public relations practitioners -- or anyone else who has to deal with the public -- to ignore Covid-19. Failing to address it when dealing with people is not only immoral and unethical, it will ultimately be held against you by the public who will perceive you as stupid, uncaring, or deceitful if you're not completely up front with them.
What you need to immediately announce to anyone with whom you or your organization are about to interact is:
(a) what you have done to protect them from Covid-19 while they interact with you and;
(b) what you expect them to do -- e.g., be vaccinated, wear a mask, socially distance, have their temperature taken, etc. -- before or while they are interacting with you or other members of your organization.
Don't wait until they ask for this information. Make it readily available and clearly understandable. Post it in your front window and on your door, as well as on your website. Include an explanatory link to it in all your emails, have hard copies of it to handout at your check-out counter or information booth, and include it as a pre-recorded opening statement for all incoming calls to your phone system.
Only when everyone does this will we all have a better chance of surviving Covid.
Read more about how the Covid crisis evolved to this point.
Maintained by: Professor Emeritus Michael Turney, Ph.D., ABC, Northern Kentucky University
This website was initially developed to support public relations courses I taught at Northern Kentucky University. Since I've retired, it's become a supplementary text at scores of universities and is widely used as a reference or refresher by public relations professionals, especially those preparing for accreditation or certification.