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Tsunami Response: The Power Of The Human Voice

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The developments here in Sweden in relation to the tsunami disaster tells us a lot about the importance of a human voice.

One woman used hers. She should have been an Information Director in the periphery of the situation, but instead she became the one every Swede listened to for a few days. This is now an important ingredient in a political crisis in Sweden.

This is not about blogs, as such. But blogs are to a great extent about forming a voice, and I think it’s interesting to discuss what we can accomplish if we use it. To summarize the background the Swedish political system was taken by complete surprise when the tsunami hit the beaches where 20,000 Swedes were on vacation. They just weren’t prepared for something like that.

It took close to 40 hours before the Prime minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs even spoke with each other. And that in a country where power is very centralised to the PM.

This has led to a heated political debate, and the governments actions (or non-actions) will be examined by both the Parliament’s Committee on the Constitution and a citizens commission.

The two days when the government didn’t understand the magnitude of the disaster someone else stepped forward: Lottie Knutsson, Information Director of Fritidsresor, a tour operator with thousands of customers in Thailand. She participated in close to every news broadcast. She told us what they knew. She told us what they feared. She said they were sorry they couldn’t do more. She demanded the government’s help.

She reached out.

Now, a couple of weeks later Fritidsresor of course avoids becoming involved in the political aftermath. The company concludes they had basic disaster plans and used them. That’s important. Every crisis communicator knows that.

I don’t think Knutsson is a heroine. She did her job, what the communicators’ primer tells us. But the difference between her and the government is so huge. The government’s popularity ratings are decreasing – and at the same time people are writing to the newspapers saying Knutsson should be Foreign Minister.

There are two factors here. First of all what everyone actually did or didn’t. But in a situation where very little could be done, one thing differentiated the major Swedish actors. What they said and how they said it. The power of the human voice.

Fredrik Wacka is the author and founder of the popular CorporateBlogging.Info blog which is a guide to business and corporate blogging.

Visit Fredrik Wacka’s blog: CorporateBlogging.Info.

Tsunami Response: The Power Of The Human Voice
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