TSA Video Responds to "Pat Down" Criticism

The Story

Travelers who decline a full-body scan at the airport will be subjected to a "pat-down."  Facing customers' concerns and confrontations at the airport, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John S. Pistole issued a video, "Helpful Hints for Holiday Travelers."

  TSA Pistole

 Discussion Starters

  • What are your impressions of Pistole's video?  At what point are you most convinced and reassured?  least?  Download the script.
  • Before the new procedure was in the news, on October 28, 2010, the TSA had issued this statement: "TSA is in the process of implementing new pat-down procedures at checkpoints nationwide as one of our many layers of security to keep the traveling public safe. Pat-downs are one important tool to help TSA detect hidden and dangerous items such as explosives. Passengers should continue to expect an unpredictable mix of security layers that include explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams, among others."  Is this enough for people to understand?  What communication strategy would you have suggested for the TSA?

Assignment Ideas

  • Write a script for your own video.  Or, rewrite a few lines from Pistole's video.
  • Watch Matt Lauer's video interview of Pistole on the Today Show.  In small groups, discuss how well Pistole responded to the questions.  What strategies for handling questions did he use successfully?
  • Rewrite the TSA's November 21 response to the controversy using business writing principles, particularly analyzing your audience and using simple, clear language.