When the Underwear Bomber tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 Christmas Day, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) scrambled to put new security measures in place to protect the flying public. TSA issued a security directive to airlines within hours of the bombing, but there was intense confusion because TSA didn't communicate anything of substance publicly following the incident.
TSA has a great blog, but the agency didn't use the site to get meaningful information to passengers quickly. The only substantive action TSA took regarding its security directive was to threaten two bloggers with jail time for publishing it on their respective blogs.
A blog post on The TSA Blog December 26 is identical to a post on the main TSA Website December 27.
Why is this called "Guidance for Passengers"? It is so vague and devoid of helpful information, it is essentially useless.
TSA needs to understand how people think in times like these. We need to know what we can do, what we can expect and what actions people at TSA are doing to make us safer. Instead we got a lot of government officials telling us how fabulous other government officials were during the crisis. But, it's not about them, it's about us.
Here's Bob Schieffer's brilliant take on the whole communications fiasco:
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What TSA should have done is virtually deploy a team of communicators to answer questions from flyers in real-time across multiple social media sites. TSA could have offered rationale for some of the restrictions they had put in place. Post answers to the TSA Blog, post them to Twitter, post to wherever there's an audience. If the same question gets asked again, answer it. TSA needs to understand that how it communicates is as important as how many of us get patted down.
TSA's communicators are public servants. It would be nice if they provided some actual public service.