Public concern was sky high, the farming industry and viability of the rural economy was under threat. Demands for up to date information from the national and local media, as well as local and national representatives, were relentless. The public and rural businesses, including tourist industry, needed to know where they could go, what they could do and – just as importantly – where not to go and what not to do.
If mixed messages or inconsistent information had been given out, it could have worsened an already grave situation. Working with the DEFRA communications team as part of the Government’s Knowledge Network, we supported the DEFRA Foot and Mouth ministerial, parliamentary and media briefing operation.
This ensured that real time information from around the country was received and collated, then disseminated in a consistent and rapid fashion to all stakeholders and the public to ensure everyone knew what was happening and what they needed to do.
The crisis was successfully managed and what could have been a major disaster for the newly created Department became an early major triumph.
The Guardian Leader Column noted
“It is a measure of success that an Ipsos-Mori poll found that three-quarters of those questioned were satisfied with the Government’s handling of the outbreak. This week, the rural economy has returned to normal, the damage from foot and mouth contained. But how different it nearly was.”