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Communicating in a Crisis: Botulism Case Study

Critique of Press Release

A researched press release about the outbreak of botulism is a rather vivid example of a journalist’s article that is not successful enough. The process of describing the situation and the methods that the author used when writing this news is quite controversial, which is caused by some factors. A more detailed analysis of this article will help to assess the critical mistakes made in the process of the study also contribute to the compilation of another press release on a similar topic but compiled in accordance with the rules of risk communication.

Main Mistakes Made by the Author

According to the norms of writing articles that are relevant to risk communication, it is necessary not only to interest the reader but also to do it correctly. Thus, one of the rules of this work is that news should not harm or cause panic among the population (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2002). While looking at the press release about botulism in Buenos Aires, it can be noted that the journalist did not try to present the news neutrally. An overly explicit emphasis on anxiety caused by an outbreak of two people’s disease can entail panic among the population and lead to massive outrage.

Also, the article gives the exact address of these people’s workplace. Perhaps, this detail was superfluous as the management of the organization would have to listen to a large number of complaints and threats from the public and answer continually coming questions. Evidently, people should be aware of a possible risk. However, the fact that the author of the article entirely disclosed all the details might lead to widespread discontent. As Miller et al. (2017) note, the collection and dissemination of relevant information should be accompanied by a competent submission of data; otherwise, news can be perceived biased. Therefore, it would be correct to change the structure of the press release to the extent that the article does not contain a call for actions.

Building Trust with the Target Audience

Another condition that should have been observed when writing the press release about botulism in Buenos Aires refers to the need for building trust with the target audience. It is essential for the public not only to realize the importance of this or that news but also to be sure of the validity of data and the reliability of their receipt (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2002). The article has quite provocative comments concerning the mortality and dangers of botulism. If the author had used a different approach, for example, had focused on preventive measures and the positive dynamics of treatment, the audience probably would have taken the information quite neutrally.

Also, according to Lundgren and McMakin (2013), it is essential for the population to have a full understanding of the problem. It is not enough just to display the issue and its possible consequences, especially if it is a severe health problem. When people know how they can prevent a threat and reduce a potential risk, they feel more secure and confident. At the same time, if the audience has little information about a particular issue, there is a danger of mass discontent. Therefore, a full coverage of a specific problem is one of the conditions for a successful informing of the problem and a correctly written press release.

Redesigned Project of Press Release

Due to the fact that on Monday, January 13th, two residents of Bueno Aires were diagnosed with botulism symptoms, it is necessary to be attentive and control personal health. Despite a possible danger of infection, the city health services are doing everything to be entirely sure that it is botulism. Nevertheless, even if the infection is proved, this problem can be corrected, especially if it is diagnosed at an early stage.

The fact is that the fatal outcome of the disease can happen if the patient does not receive appropriate treatment timely. However, due to the fact that doctors have identified a potential threat, the risk of death in two men is unlikely. Modern medicine has developed quite well to efficiently counteract even such dangerous ailments as botulism. It is enough to take an appropriate medicine containing an antitoxin in its composition, and the threat will be prevented. Nevertheless, it is necessary to be vigilant and monitor the freshness of the products that are used for food. It is significant to avoid tainted meat and vegetables as they can contain a dangerous virus. Also, if there are any symptoms of the disease (shortness of breath, weakness, nausea), it is required to immediately consult a doctor.

For more information on botulism prevention, visit the Ministry of Health website and call 785-748-4787, and qualified specialists will provide all the necessary information. The authorities are doing everything possible to prevent the spread of the disease. There is no cause for concern, you just need to monitor your health, and if you have any symptoms, contact your doctor.


Thus, the preparation of a press release requires compliance with specific rules that relate to risk communication. In particular, the authors of such projects should provide readers with full information and not hide essential data. It is also necessary for the audience to understand the topic of the press release well in order the relations between journalists and the public to be trustworthy.


Lundgren, R. E., & McMakin, A. H. (2013). Risk communication: A handbook for communicating environmental, safety, and health risks (5th ed.). Piscataway, NL: IEEE Press.

Miller, A. N., Sellnow, T., Neuberger, L., Todd, A., Freihaut, R., Noyes, J.,… Gamhewage, G. (2017). A systematic review of literature on effectiveness of training in emergency risk communication. Journal of Health Communication, 22(7), 612-629.

US Department of Health and Human Services. (2002). Web.

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"Communicating in a Crisis: Botulism." IvyPanda, 3 Jan. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/communicating-in-a-crisis-botulism/.

1. IvyPanda. "Communicating in a Crisis: Botulism." January 3, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/communicating-in-a-crisis-botulism/.


IvyPanda. "Communicating in a Crisis: Botulism." January 3, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/communicating-in-a-crisis-botulism/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Communicating in a Crisis: Botulism." January 3, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/communicating-in-a-crisis-botulism/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Communicating in a Crisis: Botulism'. 3 January.

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