12 Days of SMEM: Zombies

While the majority of the posts on our path through the 12 Days of
SMEM will focus on what happens after a disaster, any good PIO will
tell you that what you do before the disaster can ultimately
determine the success or failure of your response. So I’d be doing you
all a great disservice if I don’t at least mention one pre-disaster
best practice. (And we’ll have another before we’re done.)

The very best in the business of using social media in public health
these days are our friends at the CDC. (You’ll hear that a few times
this week.) And boy did they hit a homerun earlier this year, with a
post by Dr. Ali Kahn on
preparedness
.
Sounds boring, right? Not this one, this one had pizzazz. Pizzazz and
zombies. (And yes, Patrice Cloutier already posted about this in his
25DaysofSMEM post
.)

On May 16 this year, Dr. Kahn and his self-styled Zombie Task Force,
published—without approval—the infamous zombie preparedness post. And
the world reacted. 30,000 hits
later
,
the website crashed. With a bit of duct tape and chewing gum they got
the site back up, and promptly got another 30,000 hits. Dozens of
media mentions. Total hits in the millions. All for $87.

And CDC did the smart thing, they kept striking while the iron was
hot. A video contest.
A graphic novel. An
interview with zombie author, he writes about zombies, not is one, Max
Brooks
.

Now, the grump in me will say, who cares? There is no return on this
(ridiculously small) investment. No quantification beyond a couple of
million website hits and Twitter Trending Topic or two. But the
idealist in me says, I’m willing to bet that one or two dozen of those
million people learned a bit about preparedness. Maybe one or two of
them got ready? Maybe not. But one thing is for sure: the CDC has
earned a ton of respect.

Trust.

And really, isn’t that what we, as PIOs, are really after?

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