September 17th, 2020

[The following appeared as commentaries by Edward Segal in his weekly “Crisis Ahead” podcast. Watch previous episodes and subscribe to the podcast on YouTube at, Or listen to them at]

As a reported by CBS NEWS, skepticism about getting a vaccine has grown as the pandemic has gotten worse in the United States.

A new poll conducted for CBS NEWS found that most voters think that if a vaccine for COVID-19 was announced this year they would think that the vaccine had been rushed through without enough testing.

And of those voters, only 13% said that if the vaccine were available that they would get it.

Another survey by the Harris Poll found that 78 percent of Americans think the accelerated approval process of a coronavirus vaccine is being driven by politics — not by proof that the shots actually work.

To their credit, last week the CEOs of nine biotech and pharmaceutical companies signed and announced a pledge. They promised that they will follow scientific and ethical principles in in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Will their pledge be enough to assure the public that the vaccine will be safe to take? Or is their pledge too little and too late? Only time will tell.

Here are seven things you or your company or organization should do immediatelyin a crisis to help ensure you will be believed and trusted when you have something important to say or ask people to do.

  • Don’t promise more than you can deliver.
  • Don’t engage in exaggeration or hyperbole.
  • Don’t put your personal or corporate priorities ahead of the safety of others.
  • Set and stick to realistic deadlines.
  • Have a credible spokesperson represent your organization.
  • Practice transparency and full disclosure
  • Provide updates about your progress in finding and implementing a solution to the crisis.

The Blame Game

It is not unusual for some people — and organizations — to refuse to accept responsibility for their role in creating a crisis. We’ve seen too many examples of companies and people who think that playing the blame game is a winning strategy when responding to a scandals, disaster, or other emergencies.

In 2019, Boeing said the crash of two of its planes was caused by the pilots. The pilots were killed in the crashes and could not defend themselves. An investigation later found that a series of failures, including the design of the planes, software problems,, and poor training led to the tragedies.

When you find yourself dealing with a crisis situation, do not play the blame game. Companies, organizations, and individuals who find that they have become scapegoats need to respond immediately, fight back, and defend themselves. Otherwise, people will assume that the blame is justified.

Former Vice President Joe Biden did the right thing recently when he fought back against charges by President Trump that he — Biden — was responsible for the recent violence in some cities. Journalists have been known to help set the record straight about who is at fault in a crisis. As Eugene Robinson, a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist for the Washington Post observed, the violence is happening under Donald Trump’s Administration, not Joe Biden’s.

But don’t wait for others to come to your defense in a crisis. Do what you can as soon as you can to tell your side of the story.