Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Government and tourism officials in Palm Beach County, lesson from Summer 2016: After ‘red tide’ has washed away.

‘Blue-green algae’ in 2016 and the ‘red tide’ in 2018: Be prepared for when the ‘news’ spins out of control along the beaches here in Palm Beach County.

Please pause momentarily for Tweet to load, a staged scene in The Palm Beach Post:

From a news report in the Sun Sentinel two years ago after it was discovered there was no blue-green toxic algae along the beaches in Palm Beach County:

“We have been working really hard to get this message out,” [Ashley] Svarney said. “Our beaches are as clean and as pristine as ever.”

—Quote from Sun Sentinel. Ashley Svarney from Discover The Palm Beaches explained in 2016 that tourists and visitors were associating photos of “reeking,” “oozing” and “guacamole-thick” algae from the Treasure Coast with the clean beaches of Palm Beach County.

Before long the ‘red tide’ will be gone for good. And then the really hard work will begin for County and tourism officials. For example. . .

Do you remember two years ago when the press and news media began to scurry all over the waterways in PBC looking for green stuff in the water and suggesting it was blue-green ‘toxic’ algae? They used helicopters high up in air filming green stuff floating in canals and reporters on the ground took camera still shots and wrote stories that it might be harmful algae and warned everyone to stay out of the water. Reporters carried gas masks. Just in case you see. The public got frightened and upset. TV news ratings went up and the press sold more newspapers. And then guess what happened? The sample results from the Florida DEP came back 4–5 days later: those samples came back clear. Non-toxic. You see, not all blue-green algae is toxic the public later came to learn. It was a panic over nothing. But that news was too late for some cities such as Lake Worth that were forced to cancel events like the July 4th Raft Race.

And how many tourists cancelled their plans to come to the beaches in PBC later that year? How many Snowbirds saw reports about ‘toxic’ blue-green algae and decided to go somewhere else for the Fall/Winter Season?

The media frenzy about blue-green algae began again early this year, much earlier than it did in 2016. Some in the press and news media will eventually get bored running around up in Martin and St. Lucie counties and come south to Palm Beach County and try stirring up fears here along the inland canals, Intracoastal, and the coastal beaches too about ‘toxic’ algae to get their TV ratings up and increase online newspaper clicks too.

Before this County needs to go into “CRISIS COMMUNICATION MODE” take a lesson from what happened in July 2016, here is a headline in the Sun Sentinel:

“Palm Beach County tourism community wants to clear up algae bloom perceptions”

This item could be filed under, “Stuff that happens when you are not prepared”. The news below comes from this article in the Sun Sentinel by reporter Skyler Swisher and two excerpts:

     Discover The Palm Beaches, the county's tourism marketer, has been in “crisis communication mode,” working to dispel any perception that Palm Beach County's 47 miles of beaches are also being coated in the neon-green slime, said Ashley Svarney, the organization's public relations director.
     She wants Americans to know the water is fine in Delray Beach, Boca Raton and other popular destinations.

and. . .

     Lured by beautiful blue water and swaying coconut palms, nearly 7 million people visited Palm Beach County in 2015, producing more than $7 billion in economic impact, according to Discover The Palm Beaches.
     The organization’s CEO Jorge Pesquera appeared on NBC Nightly News over the Fourth of July weekend. He strolled along the beach in Lake Worth with a reporter. Beachgoers frolicked in the surf, and Pesquera stressed that he would be comfortable letting his own children take a dip in the ocean.

Be prepared to fight back against the press and news media! Here is one example how from July 2016.

Just a simple Tweet with a photo:

Beautiful blues! Sea and sky at the Lake Worth pier on July 2nd, 2016.