How did ebola and a slow news day work together to cause unjustified panic?
I’m sure more of you remember ebola, but maybe not that there were only 7 cases in the US. (That’s approximately the same grave risk as Ferris wheels create, and no one really walks around worried about those.)
But here’s the numbers:
Of those 7 cases, 6 different hospitals served as treatment facilities. 5 of those hospitals were in Top 10 Average counties and 1 was in a Middle Average counties.
Plus one infected nurse flew to Ohio for her wedding.
So 5 Top 10 Average counties and 2 Middle Average counties were actually impacted by the virus. Which meant that 23% top 10 average were within a TV station signal from the virus itself, compared with just 2% of Middle Average.
But when I asked people if they thought that Ebola was a threat to their personal health, 30% of Top 10 Average said yes… while 40% Middle Average said yes.
And that’s because news media has a huge impact on people’s respective realities, and can even skew real-life risk assessments.
Ebola sounded scary, and people didn’t know what to do.
But it also happened to hit on a slower than average news cycle. So people heard a disproportional amount about the risk.
So because 23% Top 10 Average were forced to weigh news reports with their personal, less frantic experiences, they felt less fearful. While everyone else had no such reality check. So fear was much higher among Middle Average – because they only had news reports to go off of.
What this means:
So if you have a brand or product crisis that has been picked up by the media, you may have more damage control in areas NOT impacted because those people are only hearing the hype.