Friday, July 16, 2010


This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

It’s the biggest environmental disaster in American history. For 87 days, crude oil had been spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from that blown-out undersea BP well-head. It’s beyond grim. And you’re on the cusp of maybe – just maybe – fixing it, through yet more complex engineering manouvres. But first they had to pressure-test the channel. How best to communicate that to a general public audience? Enter retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the Obama administration’s point-man on the spill, who found himself the most widely-quoted person on the file when he used a simple yet crystal-clear analogy to explain the procedure. “It’s like putting your thumb over a garden hose,” he said. Bingo. We all get that. Slip your thumb over the end of the hose, pressure builds up like crazy – and, as a result, any little holes further back in the hose are suddenly apparent. In our Media Coaching and message development work, we always extol the virtues of a tidy analogy to make the complex suddenly simple. Touchdown, Admiral Allen.

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