It’s good to sometimes step out of your comfort zone, and that’s what I’m doing now. I hope it doesn’t alienate too many of the two readers of this blog…
Today’s topic is the volcanic ash problem now plaguing northern Europe. On the surface, this perhaps doesn’t seem to have any connection to marketing, advertising or copywriting that are my usual fare. Yet, on a larger scale, we are talking about communication.
What is important is what’s not being said.
Online news media are full of stories about tourists stranded at airports or people demanding compensation for having their holiday flights cancelled. Or how it might gradually become more difficult to include exotic fruit salad in our picnic baskets.
Any more analytic reporting on how the situation, if prolonged or accelerated, will affect really important things is almost totally missing.
When air traffic is getting paralysed, what will it mean to the economy? More important than the plight of holidaymakers is our food security, the ability of the postal services to function or the ability of courier companies to transport urgent industrial spare parts or medicines.
How to find alternatives to ambulance flights? Does the closing of airspaces around Europe (26 countries at the time of writing) mean more people will die because they can’t be transported efficiently?
How is the ash going to affect people with heart conditions, respiratory problems, allergies or asthma? The ash cloud covering Europe’s most developed countries, it would seem appropriate to be concerned about national health.
If airliners can’t fly, military aircraft can’t fly either. With most of Europe’s air forces grounded, how is this affecting defence?
Will we have a cold summer, poor crops and famine? The eruption of an Icelandic volcano was one of the causes of the French revolution in the 18th century. Are governments worried?
It’s healthy to remember that in communication and PR, what is left unsaid is often more important than what is being said.
UPDATE April 20, 2010:
According to Reuter’s, International Air Transport Association (IATA) head Giovanni Bisignani has said
“The scale of the economic impact (on aviation) is now greater than 9/11, when U.S. airspace was closed for three days. We must move away from this blanket closure and find ways to flexibly open air space, step by step.”
Get real. The ash situation is a major force majeure and it is not going to help airlines’ business if the worst risk realisesâ€”which is not a far-fetched scenario if greed overtakes caution. Revenue at any cost?