fear is viral: the plague pr pitfall

The most terrifying thing about pestilence is its power to terrify. In reputational terms, any plague has a mighty PR punch that far exceeds the reach of the disease itself – and often brings out the worst in people. That demands responsibility on the part of PR professionals.


Case in point: ebola. A haemorrhagic fever with no vaccine or cure. Meaning if left untreated victims will rapidly dehydrate and die through organ failure, shedding the virus in their body fluids as they do so. Which will infect new victims through any mucous membrane or broken skin. But not, thankfully, via airborne droplets, as in flu, or via parasites, as with bubonic plague (which could also spread via droplets; ‘Atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down’ – grim, some nursery rhymes).

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