Bedbugs – A New PR Problem

An epidemic of bedbugs is hitting New York City and according to reports showing signs of spreading across the US and even into Europe. And though not quite having the same effect that, say, the Fukushima disaster is having on nuclear energy, the vermin are making problems for businesses.

Bedbugs thrive in densely populated areas (such as New York or London or Paris), and are easy to acquire (one can pick them up on public transportation, in cinemas, and hotels), hard to get rid of (they’ve formed resistance to some pesticides), and are not necessarily the product of uncleanliness or lack of sanitation.

Despite all this, customers still don’t like bedbugs, and have been unforgiving to establishments where they have been found. And bad news travels fast, and not necessarily accurately. A single bedbug in a shop or hotel could be transformed into an entire swarm through injudicious word of mouth. The result can be not only a loss of business, but often legal costs as well, as the more litigious seek redress through their lawyers.

All this provides good reason for businesses to take preventive measures. One step is the entomological, ie, not getting the bedbugs in the first place by consulting with one of experienced practitianers in the now booming pest extermination business.

Another step is simply good communications.

The public needs to be educated to dimensions of the problem. Businesses (such as the Victoria’s Secret shop that temporarily closed after an infestation) should not only make it known to potential customers that bedbugs are not a problem of the business’ own making, but they should disclose the hopefully successful and continuing steps they are taking to make sure that customers have a comfortable and bug free environment.