Crisis PR

Encountering a crisis in public relations shows the true worth of an organization and preparation is key. According to David Weiner, “As the ultimate unplanned activity, a crisis does not lend itself to conventional “command and control” management practices. In fact, some of the techniques for managing a crisis may fly in the face of conventional notions of planning, testing and execution. Preparation and sound judgment are critical for survival,” (2006). The article by Wiener, “Crisis Communications: Managing Corporate Reputation in the Court of Public Opinion explains steps to manage a crisis from prevention, management, and recovery. “Since the Tylenol crisis of the 1980s (unknown parties tampered with bottles of the product), the concept of crisis management has become a specialized activity in the domains of communications and public relations. Companies have come to recognize crisis communications capabilities as a vital part of their risk management and business continuity strategies,”(Weiner, D., 2006). The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has come up with a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign named Ready to include a crisis communications plan when there is a natural disaster.
The Ready website states, “An important component of the preparedness program is the crisis communications plan. A business must be able to respond promptly, accurately and confidently during an emergency in the hours and days that follow. Many different audiences must be reached with information specific to their interests and needs. The image of the business can be positively or negatively impacted by public perceptions of the handling of the incident.” This can be evident in other crises that a business may encounter and alter the relationship with their consumer. “Understanding the audiences that a business needs to reach during an emergency is one of the first steps in the development of a crisis communications plan. There are many potential audiences that will want information during and following an incident and each has its own needs for information. The challenge is to identify potential audiences, determine their need for information and then identify who within the business is best able to communicate with that audience, (FEMA, 2012). Another aspect is the cultural influences on a crisis and the impact diversity can have. “Participants had difficulties defining multiculturalism, yet acknowledged that cultural expectations affect audiences’ perceptions of corporations and crises. They also emphasized that gender, religion, and disability issues, as well as generational and educational gaps, are some other relevant factors influencing corporate discourse. The importance ascribed by practitioners to culture during crises varied significantly. For some, addressing cultural diversity is a valuable corporate asset; for others, the relevance of culture in communication strategies is overemphasized.

References

Fatima Oliveira, M. (2013). Multicultural environments and their challenges to crisis communication. Journal Of Business Communication, 50(3), 253-277. doi:10.1177/0021943613487070
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (2012, November 5). Crisis Communications Plan. Retrieved from http://www.ready.gov/business/implementation/crisis
Weiner, D. (2006, April). CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS: MANAGING CORPORATE REPUTATION IN THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION. Retrieved from http://iveybusinessjournal.com/topics/the-workplace/crisis-communications-managing-corporate-reputation-in-the-court-of-public-opinion

Ethics and PR

When working in public relations an individual’s personal and professional ethics can be combatting forces. What may be considered morally competent for someone personally may not align with the social responsibility of their profession or the situation reversed. In the article “PR Ethics and Reputation: PR Professionals Are Not “Yes Men” When Pressured to Be Unethical, New Baylor Study Finds” reports how a study was done on the strained relationship between personal and professional ethics. “Researchers did in-depth interviews with senior public relations professionals in the United States and Australia, with an average of 27 years of experience. All but three had served as the chief public relations officers in their organizations, which included corporations, nonprofit organizations and government entities; and two of those also provided counsel in their roles in PR agencies for their clients as external counselors,” (Daily Dog, 2013). What the study provided was how individuals in these positions were at lost for with their personal ethics in a professional environment.
As is stated from the Daily Dog, “Speaking up on sensitive ethical issues required courage, study participants said. A few were fired or demoted for refusing to do something that was blatantly unethical; two resigned when their advice was rejected, including one who refused to include false information in a press release,” (2013). This calls into question the social responsibility of companies to their employees and pressure to cross ethics lines. What are put on the line are a public relations professional’s credibility and a limiting factor for their position being views of the role of public relations.
The role being public relations is just an extension of a marketing department. This is further examined in the study, “About “the End of Public Relations” and the Integrated Model of PR,” by Sandu Franza “They are mostly concerned with the fact that public relations have not succeeded in becoming a separate domain able to enjoin itself among other domains. According to these critiques, public relations are meant to be swallowed either by marketing, or by other sub-domains of communication sciences. Thus we are induced the idea of an “end of public relations,” (Franza, S., 2009). This study describes a new integrative approach in a globalized world for the continued growth of public relations role with ethics as a main
Component. “The ability to engage in ethical reasoning in public relations is growing in demand, in responsibility, and in importance. Academic research, university and continuing education, and professional practice are all attending more than ever to matters of ethics. The public relations function stands at a critical and defining juncture: whether to become an ethics counselor to top management or to remain outside the realm of the strategic decision making core. How we choose to respond to the crisis of trust among our publics will define the public relations of the future,” (Bowen, S., 2001).

References

Bowen, S. A. (2001, October 30). Ethics and Public Relations – Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved from http://www.instituteforpr.org/topics/ethics-and-public-relations/

Daily Dog (2013, January 17). PR Ethics and Reputation: PR Professionals Are Not “Yes Men” When Pressured to Be Unethical, New Baylor Study Finds. Retrieved from http://www.bulldogreporter.com/dailydog/article/pr-ethics-and-reputation-pr-professionals-are-not-yes-men-when-pressured-be-unethic
Frunza, S. (2009). About “the End of Public Relations” and the Integrated Model of PR. Journal Of Media Research, (5), 3-16.