During mock crisis, communicators play integral role

Crisis communication plans were put to the test when financial organizations underwent a mock bird flu pandemic. Is your company prepared?

Bird flu began ravaging America’s financial sector Sept. 24. Thousands became ill, and even more were absent from work caring for sickened family members. Mass transit ground to a halt. Paper distribution was two weeks behind schedule. Mail was delivered once or twice weekly. Offices lacked toilet paper. With America’s financial sector in disarray, world markets were reeling.

Then, on Oct. 12, the bird flu passed. The sick were suddenly cured, while services returned to normal. No miracle here. Oct. 12 marked the final day of the three-week Pandemic Flu Exercise 2007—the first exercise of its kind.

Organizers said 2,725 organizations participated in the event—including industry giants like Citigroup and Bank of America—a much larger number than they anticipated. And communications, one organizer said, proved an important aspect of the exercise.

An exercise in outbreak

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