Reflections on My H1N1 Presentation

The American Camp Association’s National Conference has become a regular speaking engagement for me, and I was in Denver on Feb. 17 for the 2010 conference to present “Swine in ’09 – Lessons Learned That Will Help in 2010. Children’s camps, schools, travel programs and other who serve children were, in some cases, severely affected by the H1N1 virus during the summer 2009.

Last summer, working with a top infectious disease physician and infection control nurse, I provided crisis management consulting services for many of these programs. Recently, my client for which I provide these services, AMSkier Insurance, conducted a survey of camp experiences with the virus. Based on those results and my experience during the 2009 season, I gave a 75-minute talk.

As an aside and pat on my back, at last year’s conference in Orlando, I presented my usual topic of “Crisis Planning and Response,” and listed about eight possible “emergencies” camp directors could face in 2009. On the list was “influenza pandemic.” How about that!

Back to the point. During my session in Denver, which drew camp directors from Turkey and Russia, as well as the U.S. and Canada, I discussed seven lessons learned from the 2009 season. Some were obvious, like better disinfection and hand washing, and some technical, like identifying symptoms, quick isolation, treatment and working with  the Department of Health.

But the top issue that many camps cited in being able to effectively control an infectious disease like H1N1 was communications. Those who communicated proactively and effectively with their camp families, communities, health officials and, in some cases, the media, were not only able to better control the spread of the virus, but they built good will in the process.

In a crisis, communication is king. You hear that Tiger and Toyota?


Social Media for B2B – Manage Those Expectations

When I walk into meeting with B2B clients and suggest social media strategies, I seem to be evoking similar responses: A curious interest in exploring it, but a healthy skepticism of what benefit it will bring them. It would be stupid to ignore that feedback.

The truth is that while we are engaged with social media on many levels, introducing and sometimes managing efforts for clients, it’s still very tough giving B2B companies tangible reasons to spend time and money. This challenge, along with their reluctance to dedicate internal resources, have led me to a few conclusions, which I am very open to suggestions about:

  • Social media strategies for many B2B operations will have little or no results for some time. It takes time to get connected on LinkedIn and gain followers on Twitter, so while there may be some business opportunities that arise, they will be few at first.
  • It’s okay to introduce social media strategies to B2B companies, but stick to LinkedIn and Twitter, and limit the budget and expectations. If you are expecting someone to allocate marketing budget dollars, they will expect results, and we all know that measurement is tough at best.
  • Some PR/ad/marketing agencies are pushing social media analysis or strategies to clients just to make a buck. Those agencies will lose credibility long-term.

There are opportunities with B2B social media strategies, but best to take small steps and set realistic expectations.