Engaging: The CDC Does It Right (With Zombies)
The CDC has figured out how to engage the audience. Everyone trying to do the same (I won't name names) should give them a round of applause.
In my mind, the CDC isn't involved in the zombie apocalypse scenario, mostly because it's inconvenient to believe a body of the state can actually contain and control an outbreak. With proof that their blog can't even handle getting nailed by a ton of Twitter traffic, how can they possibly defend us against a raging zombie virus?
But back in the real world, the CDC has turned our obsession with zombies into a targeted marketing campaign.
From the CDC's Public Health Matters blog:
If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work).Genius.
To learn more about what CDC does to prepare for and respond to emergencies of all kinds, visit:
The quirky post by Dave Daigle, a longtime CDC spokesman, has drawn 23,000 hits since Monday, the highest-ever for a CDC blog, he said. For a while, it even crashed the site. More important, it was tagged as a Top Tweet by the folks at Twitter, an honor that seemed to delight Daigle, a 52-year-old father of four.They sure engaged Fox, who took it as the CDC telling Americans to prepare for an actual zombie "invasion" a la Resident Evil.
“I’ve never been accused of being hip,” said Daigle, the associate director for communications at the Public Health Preparedness and Response Center at CDC.
Daigle, one of several authors for the blog, said he was searching for a way to raise awareness about the need to prepare for the worst, particularly in the wake of recent tornados [sic] and on the eve of hurricane season.
“Essentially the kits and many of the messages are the same,” said Daigle. “We have had a hard time engaging people.”
Are you prepared for the impending zombie invasion?No joke? Perhaps surprisingly? Who writes this stuff? It was clearly a joke (albeit with a serious undertone tied to it) and it is not at all surprising that the zombie apocalypse and the next Katrina look a lot alike. That's entirely the point of what the CDC attempted here.
That’s the question posed by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention in a Monday blog posting gruesomely titled, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.” And while it’s no joke, CDC officials say it’s all about emergency preparation.
“There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for,” the posting reads. “Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.”
The post, written by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan, instructs readers how to prepare for “flesh-eating zombies” much like how they appeared in Hollywood hits like “Night of the Living Dead” and video games like Resident Evil. Perhaps surprisingly, the same steps you’d take in preparation for an onslaught of ravenous monsters are similar to those suggested in advance of a hurricane or pandemic.
Sometimes, people get the translation wrong. That's the risk you take when you engage; some "news" outlets will take you seriously, others won't get the joke and some will absolutely love it. I'm sure agencies like the CDC often feel like they can't take that risk but that's half the fun of being on the Internet. You say things that piss people off or get them talking or end up getting ignored. Sometimes you get a mixture of the three and sometimes you get extremes like people insulting your character or constantly talking about how awful you are but that's unavoidable.
I give them credit for taking the risk. In this case, it worked.
Read it all again carefully now:
The campaign was designed to reach a young, media-savvy demographic that the CDC had not been able to capture before, Daigle said. (Reuters)
"People are so tuned into zombies," he said. "People are really dialed in on zombies. The idea is we're reaching an audience or a segment we'd never reach with typical messages." (Fox)