Going viral

2020 hasn’t been quite the happy new year that we all wished each other just three months ago, has it? With floods verging on biblical, the realisation that Brexit is a sad reality and now a public health crisis to contend with, can things get any worse? Sadly I fear they can.

Back in the eighties when I was designing HIV/AIDS awareness materials, we had no social media which was a blessing and a curse – whilst it limited access to information for the public it also hampered misinformation. The playing field felt more level, though we did still have the tabloids to compete with in their feverish mission to spread division via headline hysteria.

Almost all of the information we are seeing around the spread of the Coronavirus and how to prevent it is being shared online in the first instance. This makes perfect sense, information can be shared immediately and adapted as things develop, unlike the old days of leaflets through letterboxes. This does however pose its own problems. People are also free share conspiracy theories, junk science, denial and false hope, and a chance to make a quick buck on the back of our shared anxieties.

Another disadvantage of online messaging is that it can disenfranchise the people often most at risk – older people, homeless people and those already sick etc. There is no one size fits all solution at times like this and the UK government did eventually get its house in order with some imperfect solutions to the daily changing crisis. In the rush to share information, I however fear that ‘old’ media may be getting overlooked to some degree when it comes to a 360 degree information campaign, there does still remain a place for more traditional approaches to public information and education.

As is the case for many independent businesses, my workload has decreased as a result of Coronavirus. Organisations now have bigger and unforeseen issues to contend with and all of the outlets where my design work would ordinarily end up have now temporarily shut up shop.

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, Soft Octopus tries to do the right thing. The studio is not in it just for the money and we have a reputation for helping out when we can. If you work for an organisation that needs assistance designing materials to help in the effort to contain Coronavirus and COVID-19, get in touch, we’d love to do our part and if you ask nicely, it may even cost you nothing.

Stay safe, now wash your hands.

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