Hawaii’s Preparation For a Nuclear Strike Presents Marketing and PR Challenges

By Patti Podnar

Pexels / Pixabay

The morning of September 22, 2017, my phone greeted me with headlines proclaiming, “Hawaii prepares for North Korean nuclear strike!”


It is, in fact, true. But the details are rather boring compared to the sensationalistic headlines.

From a marketing, PR, and crisis management perspective, however, the headlines are far more important, because perception is reality. (It’s a cliche for a reason.) If people think Hawaii isn’t safe, they won’t go.

So what should a state do when being responsible could mean tanking the state’s $15.6 billion hospitality industry?

Let’s take a look.

(Disclaimer: As I’m sure there are many details I’m not aware of, I’m approaching this as a hypothetical case study. These are actions I would recommend to state government; where appropriate, I’ve noted second-tier steps to make sure the message makes it all the way down to the end user.)

Step 1: Identify your core message

The goal here is to put the nuclear threat in the right perspective by using targeted content to reassure residents and travelers that Hawaii is safe — without negligently downplaying the situation. While everyone should be informed of the situation and what to do in case of an emergency, the core message of any content should be something along the lines of:

We have emergency plans in place for everything from hurricanes to volcanoes. Recent tensions with North Korea made us aware that our disaster preparedness protocols lacked plans for a nuclear emergency, and we are now correcting that oversight. We are unaware of any immediate threat.

The details may vary a bit by audience, but it all comes down to some variation of “We’ve got this.”

Step 2: Identify all audiences

Residents and tourists are the obvious audiences. But we’re going to dive a little deeper and try to think of all possible stakeholders. Additional possibilities include:

  • Media outlets both on and off the islands
  • Airlines
  • The people who keep Hawaii’s shelves stocked with food and other necessities
  • Travel magazines
  • Vacation planners
  • Bloggers

I’m sure there are others I’m missing. Feel free to add them in the comments! Stakeholders can include both those directly affected as well as those playing a role in disseminating suggested content.

Step 3: Develop a crisis communication plan for each stakeholder audience

While the overall content message should be consistent, it can be tweaked based on the needs and roles of each audience. We’ll take a look at a few of the most important audiences.

Government employees

Government employees probably face the biggest challenge: Taking emergency preparedness measures without being too obvious about it — all while being stopped and questioned by tourists so frequently that they fall behind on the tasks at hand.

Core message

While public employees may have the toughest job, they’re also the most manageable in terms of what they tell people — as long as management gives them an answer instead of leaving them to come up with something on their own:

Explain that the rhetoric with North Korea led us to realize that our current emergency preparedness plan didn’t address the possibility of nuclear strikes, so we going back Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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