AAA Carolinas released a statement last week about potential disruptions to gas supplies and how some stations were rationing the amount of gas customers could buy. The release quoted David Parsons, the CEO and President of AAA Carolinas as saying, "The worst thing that could happen would be for motorists to flock to gas stations to top off their tanks. That will worsen the situation before anyone knows what the damage will be. We encourage people not to panic, drive conservatively and don't take unnecessary trips until the damage assessment is completed early next week."
Panic is just what many people did. We quickly started hearing stories of gas prices soaring and drivers waiting in long lines to get gas on Friday. Some gas stations started running out of regular fuel. Even on Saturday, the only gas I could find for my car was premium. That's when I thought to myself, "I should have filled up on Friday."
Don't panic. I can't think of a situation where you would say those words, and people would react by not panicking. It's the fine line of informing the public of a situation, when the mere information makes the situation worse.
Could AAA Carolinas chosen some better words to get their message out? Could the news media have treated the story differently?