The Hyperthinker by Philip Weiss

New thinking for the Internet age

  • Shifting the vaccine policy discussion

    The H1N1 crisis has dramatically changed discussions around vaccines. A range of experts from different fields come together at the Merieux Foundation earlier this week. The conversation ranged from what questions were influencing public perception of vaccines to how to better understand the issues that the health community is facing today. It was fascinating to hear studies showing the impact certain rumours had on individual uptake of different kind of vaccines.

    The most moving presentation came from a parent who had lost his child to the whooping cough (pertussis), reminding us why vaccines matter so profoundly to the health of our society and our children. The challenge we face however is an increasing level of scepticism from the public and intensification of rumours and scare stories spread through the web. Brian Deer, a journalist writing for the Sunday Times and the BMJ, shared his experience in investigating the case of Andrew Wakefield. Brian spoke about how he had done a long and deep investigation into the science and methodology that had gone into Andrew Wakefield’s claims and was able to dismantle his case by carefully reading a large collection of documents. He showed us that rigorous work and challenge can help to expose fraudulent claims. Read More

  • Crisis in a social media world

    At the end of October we met at the IBM Forum to revisit our understanding of crisis management. In an age where crises are more frequent and virulent than ever before communicators need a better understanding of how they can adapt to these changes. Recent examples include VW falling victim to a virulent online attack by Greenpeace, Egyptian activists using the web to mobilize support against Moubarak and IBM anticipating a social media crisis. No company, individual or government is immune to this new challenge.

    Whilst at the event, I asked fellow speakers what they thought was the best way to tackle a social media crisis. Caroline Sapriel said ‘to put out a social media fire, you need social media water’. In other words, you cannot hope to handle, let alone manage a crisis in social media if you have no understanding, presence or engagement in social media. Aurelie (of ash cloud fame) talked about her personal experience at Eurocontrol and her recent experience with the European Council – where crisis management is a daily occurrence without using the word crisis. She believes the ability to adapt during a crisis is the key to success. Philippe Borremans shared some tools to cope with an online crisis and said he believes every communication team needs to be prepared and ready to act. Incidentally, one of his favorites tools is the use of wikis to collaborate and share information as well as blikis, a blog that is also a wiki. I confess I had not heard about blikis before.

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