Business Communication Introduction: The outbreak of “Swine Flu” in 2009, which was of epidemic proportions caused pandemonium across the globe, including the UK. The flu had caught up with all nations within a year, causing governments and healthcare agencies scrambling to find solutions to check its spread…
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This type of communication is referred to as crisis communication. This becomes necessary when crises like earthquake, tsunami, pandemic diseases etc occur in the society government or organizational bodies communicate with the public. During this time, the authorities concerned analyze the reasons of publication of information, audience to whom it is to be addressed, level of communication etc. In the context of the epidemic episode, UK government published a leaflet about the swine flu. This paper attempts to analyze the leaflet so published, on the basis of crisis communication theory. Swine flu is a pandemic decease that has spread across the globe. The virus originated in Mexico during April, 2009 has spread rapidly from one country to the other. Swine Flu is a commonly used term for “a relatively new strain of influenza (flu) that caused a flu pandemic in 2009-2010. It is also referred to as H1N1 influenza because it is the H1N1 strain of virus” (Swine Flu (H1N1) n.d.). Initially, it has not been recognized as a new virus and only a few people have been affected with this virus with a very low death rate. However, in August 2010, the World Health Organization declared swine flu /H1N1 influenza as a pandemic. The entire globe began to consider it as an issue of very serious proportions. People considered to be in high risk group were immediately vaccinated against swine flu. Those affected with this disease manifested symptom like fever with temperature around 38 c or 100.4 F, muscles pain and dry cough or sore throat. These symptoms are very similar to seasonal flu. Thus, people run more risk of not recognizing its onslaught. The threat is especially hazardous in the case of people suffering from chronic heart disease, kidney or liver diseases, neurological diseases or the old aged. The means to prevent this menace is by stopping it from spreading to another person. This can be done by using a tissue paper or a handkerchief while coughing or sneezing. It can be put in other words as ‘catch it, bin it and kill it.’ “We live in a society continually affected by natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and forest fires, and by organizational crises, such as food-borne illnesses, corporate malfeasance, and terrorism. Regardless of where you live or the kind of work you do, many different types of crises have the potential to significantly disrupt your life. No community and no organization, public or private, is immune from crises” (Defining Crisis Communication n.d.) This is the time when the government tries to communicate with public in order to fight against the problem. In UK, the swine flu spread during 2009 in a wide magnitude. When so many people started suffering from the flu, the government and NHS tried to communicate with them through the leaflet. This is called crisis communication. “Crisis communication is when an individual or organization communicates a message to the public, usually through the media, during a threatening, tragic or fatal accident that is unplanned or unexpected” (Woodyard 1998, p. 11). Stiven Flink talks about crisis communication “if crises have taught the world anything, it is that a crisis in business can occur today with little or no warning, anywhere, anytime. It can happen to any company, large or small, public or private. The safest assumption is that a crisis looms on the horizon”
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