“Immediacy” is perhaps the watch-word to describe the way in which our society works. Communication is so instant that we expect reaction to the communication to be just as quick, and this expectation of virtually instantaneous reaction can be a death trap for those not adequately prepared for it.
Just think what would have happened last week had the MLA properly prepared for the predictable backlash from the 4 Corners program. Rather than a muted response, David Palmer (MD) and other stakeholders in the industry should have been out there, TV, blogs, twitter, U-Tube, et al, with stories, pictures, and commentary that articulated the facts on a personal level, with emotion, and honesty.
There is an alternative view to the sensationally emotional 4 Corners story. There is a modest number of very good abattoirs that process a substantial majority of the animals sent to Indonesia, many of the smaller works, whilst not perfect, are working towards better standards, the local employment around the feedlots and works in Indonesia adds substantially to the local economy, the success of the investment MLA has made over many years to lift standards, the care Australian farmers and logistics suppliers take, and so on. Had this story been well told, we may not have had the level of knee-jerk we have had, and the attention would have been focused on how to improve the minority of the trade in Indonesia that is substandard, rather than a total ban which throws years of work, an important industry in Indonesia and Australia, and the relationship with the biggest neighbor we have against the wall.
Even better, knowing it was coming, use all the electronic tools of the immediacy generation to get the message out there in front of the 4 Corners program going to air to further mitigate the dumb, emotional knee-jerk we are now seeing in the community. Whilst a bit was done, it is bland, unemotional, scripted stuff with no emotional connection, and clearly sets out to arse-cover, rather than tell the story in a memorable way. It failed at both.
What was delivered to our couches last week was pictures of the worst of the worst, highly effective, emotional shock tactics that achieved their objective. The lesson for the rest of us is to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best, because when the worst happens, your response has to be convincing and immediate.