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.
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