There’s no more powerful visual symbol than a clock, particularly when it’s ticking. And The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) has used it well, telling the world what time it is — doomsday-wise — since 1947, when its famous clock first appeared on the Bulletin’s cover to reflect the potential for catastrophic damage from human-made technologies
Since then, the Doomsday Clock has been adjusted only 17 times prior to today, most recently after the events of 9/11. But today the clock jumps two minutes forward — to five minutes to midnight — to reflect two major sources of catastrophe: The perils of 27,000 nuclear weapons, 2,000 of them ready to launch within minutes; and the destruction of human habitats from climate change. The end of civilization as we know it grows nearer.
Take a cue from the BAS communications campaign around this jump forward. Effective components (all clearly and succinctly written, stressing the opportunity for improvement rather than the need for fear) include:
- Web site home page feature, and coverage throughout site
- Clock timeline
- Online press room
- Minutes to Midnight primer
- BAS board statement outlining steps that could be taken to prevent disaster
- Special issue of the print Bulletin
- Ad placement on the Times op-ed page (and I assume other major newspapers) — one of the most pithiest, easiest-to-digest issue ads I’ve ever seen.
BAS has done a great job of getting attention for the Doomsday Clock. Let’s hope it helps us find a way to push back time.
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