On Friday, the state of Vermont set a new record for daily Covid cases with 740. It was a full 100 more than the previous record, and just another in an upward climb since the Delta variant arrived. What did Gov. Phil Scott do about it?
He issued a press release asking people to please please please get vaccinated. Just like he’s done every time he opens his mouth.
Oh but this time, his comms team came up with A SLOGAN!
“Boost Up Vermont.”
This is, quite literally, just about the least he could have done.
It’s almost insulting to put out that bit of transparent flackery on the day we recorded 740 cases and health care staff are still dealing with a flood of gravely ill patients.
After all, stale sloganeering worked a treat last December with the “Vermont Lights the Way” campaign.
(Indeed, at a recent press conference, a reporter — to use the term loosely — asked Scott if “Vermont Lights the Way” was still a thing. Apparently each and every possible Covid question had been asked and answered.)
A slogan. Not a mask mandate. Not any additional restrictions. Not a whit of concern for the victims of the pandemic, their loved ones, or the tens of thousands of Vermonters who’ve contracted long Covid or will do so in the future.
Last week I suggested that if the governor was going to insist on Staying The Course, he needed to put some muscle behind his comms effort because it clearly hasn’t worked. Get out in public. Send his officials out in public. Wearing a mask, unlike that photo op a few weeks ago where he and Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine got their Covid boosters in an indoor space with no masks. Well, the person administering the shots was wearing a mask. But not Our Distinguished Leaders.
I added a bunch of other ideas, and Scott’s comms team could come up with more if they put their minds to it instead of devising insipid little slogans.
Imagine the brainstorming meeting that produced “Boost Up Vermont.”
“Guys, we’re losing the PR battle. Those case numbers and the hospital crunch are making us look bad. What can we do to communicate our message more effectively?”
“I know, I know!”
“What is it?”
“Good God, you’re right! That’s brilliant!”
If I’d been a fly on that wall, I think I would have gone looking for the nearest swatter.