Crisis communication

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Crisis communication is a sub-specialty of the public relations profession that is designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization facing a public challenge to its reputation.[1] The communication scholar Timothy Coombs defines crisis communication as "the perception of an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of stakeholders and can seriously impact an organization's performance and generate negative outcomes."[2]

Meaning can be socially constructed;[3] because of this, the way that the stakeholders of an organization view an event (positively, neutrally, or negatively) is a major contributing factor to whether the event will become a crisis.[4] Additionally, it is important to separate a true crisis situation from an incident.[5] The term crisis “should be reserved for serious events that require careful attention from management.”[4]

Crisis management has been defined as "a set of factors designed to combat crises and to lessen the actual damages inflicted."[6] Crisis management should not merely be reactionary; it should also consist of preventative measures and preparation in anticipation of potential crises. Effective crisis management has the potential to greatly reduce the amount of damage the organization receives as a result of the crisis, and may even prevent an incident from ever developing into a crisis.[4]

Categories of crisis management

Coombs identifies three phases of crisis management.[2]

  1. Pre-crisis: preparing ahead of time for crisis management in an effort to prevent a future crisis from occurring.[2] This category is also sometimes called the prodromal crisis stage.[7]
  2. Crisis: the response to an actual crisis event.[2]
  3. Post-crisis: occurs after the crisis has been resolved; the efforts by the crisis management team to understand why the crisis occurred and to learn from the event.[2]

Inside the management step, Bodeau-Ostermann identifies 6 successive phases: - reaction, where the group behaves on first sight, - extension, because the crisis dilutes itself and touches neighbours, - means (material and human), which constitutes an overview of success/failures of emergency reaction, - focus, stands as a concrete action or event on which the team leaders concentrate to fight crisis, - retraction, is the moment where the group diminishes means involved, in accordance with its aims, - rehabilitation, where, as a last step, result is, for the group, emergence of new values, stronger than the older. Article published on RIMS (Risk Management), New-York, May 2004.

Crisis communication tactics

Crisis communication tactics during the pre-crisis stage may include the following: researching and collecting information about crisis risks specific to the organization; creating a crisis management plan that includes making decisions ahead of time about who will handle specific aspects of a crisis if and when it occurs; preparing press release templates for the organization’s public relations team in the event of a crisis; and the chain of command that all employees will follow in the dissemination of information to all publics during a crisis situation.[8] A rapid response crisis communications team should be organized during the pre-crisis stage [9] and all individuals who will help with the actual crisis communication response should be trained.[10]

Crisis communication tactics during the crisis stage may include the following: the identification of the incident as a crisis by the organization’s crisis management team; the collection and processing of pertinent information to the crisis management team for decision making; and also the dissemination of crisis messages to both internal and external publics of the organization.[10]

Crisis communication tactics during the post-crisis stage may include the following: reviewing and dissecting the successes and failures of the crisis management team in order to make any necessary changes to the organization, its employees, practices, or procedures; and providing follow-up crisis messages as necessary.[10]

Landmark crisis communication case studies

Notes

  1. Barrera, Andria. "When Public Scrutiny Requires Crisis Communications". Gutenberg Communications. Retrieved 28 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Coombs 2007.
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  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Coombs 2012, p. 19.
  5. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  6. Coombs 2007, p. 5.
  7. Finks 1986, p. 21.
  8. Coombs 2012, p. 20.
  9. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Coombs 2012, pp. 20-21.
  11. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  12. 12.0 12.1 Stockmyer 1996.
  13. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
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  16. Sherowski, Elizabeth (1996). "Hot Coffee, Cold Cash: Making the Most of Alternative Dispute Resolution in High-Stakes Personal Injury Lawsuits". J. on Disp. Resol. 521. Retrieved 28 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Jacques, Amy. "Domino's delivers during crisis: The company's step-by-step response after a vulgar video goes viral". The Strategist. Retrieved 28 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  19. York, Emily Bryson. "What Domino's Did Right -- and Wrong -- in Squelching Hubbub over YouTube Video". AdAge. Retrieved 28 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. De Wolf, Daniel; Mejri, Mohamed (2013). "Crisis communication failures: The BP Case Study". International Journal of Advances in Management and Economics. 2 (2): 48–56. Retrieved 28 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Chen, Stephanie (2010). "Crisis management 101: What can BP CEO Hayward's mistakes teach us?". CNN. Retrieved 28 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. McCarthy, Elizabeth. "Crisis Management Case Study: BP Oil Spill". The PR Code. Retrieved 28 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

References and external links