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Crisis Communication

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In any organization, reputation and customer perception are some of the most important things to consider. When something happens that can damage either of these elements, the public relations staff focuses on damage control through what is known as crisis communications. Whether protection is needed for a key person within an organization or for the organization itself, the goals of crisis communication are to ensure the integrity of the subject and the provision of information regarding the crisis and the organizational response to said crisis.

Crisis communication should exist in three separate phases:

  1. Pre-crisis
  2. In-crisis
  3. Post-crisis

In the first stage, members of the public relations team should be aware of the various risks that exist; by developing a theoretical response plan before a crisis emerges, the ramifications can be addressed before they become too harmful. In-crisis, the nature of crisis communication changes dramatically. Information must be gathered about the existing crisis as well as how the public is perceiving said crisis. Decisions must be made with members of senior leadership as well as with the crisis response team, and information needs to be distributed not only to the public, but to employees, shareholders, etc. Finally, crisis communication after a crisis has abated involves the internal work of reviewing the crisis, what led to its occurrence, and how it can be avoided in the future. It also involves notifying anyone and everyone about the organizational response and what steps are being taken to maintain the values and integrity of the organization as a whole. By effectively communicating in these various phases, organizations are able to navigate a crisis situation with success.

Polarized communication brings several negative concepts into community dialogue. The first is a dissenting element of looking out for number one. Arnett describes this problem as such; "Polarized positions are fostered by groups and/or individuals looking out for their own interests with little concern for others. In such a communicative environment, the powerful party works to maintain advantage and the underdog struggles to gain equal rights, or at least to avoid losing further ground to those in control." (Arnett, Pg. 17) The result of such hierarchical rankings manifests itself into subordinate groups within communities organizing themselves to gain some form of equalization of power. Examples of these coalitions are found throughout history such as labor unions, student protests, the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and feminist movements.

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Crisis Communication Research Papers

Research papers on Crisis Communication examine how the public relations staff ensure the integrity of the subject and the provision of information regarding the crisis and the organizational response to said crisis.

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