Critical Insights

The Need for More Crisis Management Knowledge (Ch 1)

If an organization is disrupted there are several things that could occur. They could suffer financial losses (lost productivity, decrease in earnings or sales revenue). Others include Injuries or deaths, damage to a brand, structural or property damage, tarnishing reputation, and environmental harm.

The three-stage model of crisis management includes precrisis, crisis event, and postcrisis, each composed of two or more substages. These stages are used to summarize and organize various insights into the crisis management process. The precrisis stage involves signal detection, prevention, and crisis preparation. The crisis event stage begins with a trigger event. This phase involves crisis recognition and crisis containment. Communication is key in this stage. The last stage is the Postcrisis. This final stage is used after the crisis occurs and helps the company look better. The three substages are making the organization better prepared for the next crisis, make sure the stakeholders are left with a positive impression, and lastly to make sure the crisis is truly over.

The internet provides various means of expressing activism. These include web pages, discussion boards, blogs, microblogs, social networks, and content sharing sites. Activist groups are using the Internet to organize and to pressure the organization to change. Social media is their biggest strength along with negative publicity campaigns and boycotting. They mainly use pressure tactics to try and scare the company into changing their behavior.

A company can be found legally liable if they did not take precautions to prevent potential crises and were not prepared to respond. Crisis prevention and preparation serve as defenses to accusations of negligent failure to plan. Due diligence i the steps taken by a company to satisfy any legal requirements.


Effects of the Online World (Ch 2) & Crisis Management Ch 8

It affects the three stages of crisis management. In the precrisis stage, social media provides opportunity for finding warning signs generated by stakeholders. Blogs, posts, viral videos, etc can provide information for crisis management team members. In the response stage, company’s can use social media to respond to stakeholder’s concerns. Lastly, in the postcrisis stage, organizations can use social media to convey their message for change.


Attacking the accuser: PRO-refutes the claim that crisis exists. CON- builds sympathy for attacker

Denial: PRO- refutes claim that crisis exists. CON- offends victim

Scapegoating: PRO- Eliminates responsibility for a crisis. CON- Angers victims and nonvictims

Justification: PRO- Reinforces minimal damage from the crisis. CON- Angers victims and nonvictims

Compensation: PRO- Indicates organization is taking responsibility for the crisis. CON- Increases expense for organization

Apology: PRO- Organization accepts responsibility for the crisis. CON- Increases expense for organization.


Twitter being used during natural disasters such as the San Diego wildfires and the H1N1 flu outbreak. Fans of Carnival on Facebook were very supportive during the Carnival Triumph fire crisis. Amazon was able to use social media to adapt their crisis message and create a message that was more accepting by stakeholders.

The Pre-Crisis Phase

Proactive Reputation Management (Ch 3)

Signal detection begins with scanning, a systematic search for and analysis of events. Crisis managers scan both outside of organization and inside for crisis warning signs. Crisis managers must evaluate the information they have collected for warning signs.

Corporate Social Responsibility is the management of actions designed to affect an organization’s impact on society. CSR is a key driver and integral part of reputation management. Both CSR and reputation are dependent upon stakeholder expectations. It is part of the key evaluation criteria for reputations.

RepTrak includes CSR in three of their seven dimensions: Citizenship, workplace, and governance.

One way to integrate issues management, reputation management, and risk management is through environmental scanning.

The Crisis Prevention Process (Ch 4)

Organizations scan for threats. Environmental scanning is watching the environment for changes, trends, events, and emerging social, political, and health issues. The information is used to plot future actions. Red Flag is a sign of danger, warning organizations of imposing threats. Red flags aid the crisis prevention process by specifying what to look for, where to look for it, and what it means.

Content analysis, interviews, surveys, focus groups, and informal contacts are the most frequently used ways to collect information. A common weakness is reliability. A stakeholder map is the first step on soliciting information from stakeholders. It is a key way in deciding who the most important stakeholders are.

Crisis managers must find warning signs early by locating those that can significantly impact the organization and to take action to manage them. Typically each threat, based on the factors of likelihood and impact, is given a score from 1 to 10. When a crisis managers analyzes the issue, risk, and reputation threats, they can determine whether each threat warrants further attention and or action.

Assessing reputation threats involve looking for gaps because crisis managers must determine whether the stakeholders perceive organization as meeting expectations. The first gap is based on performance, whether the organization is doing what it needs to do to meet expectations. The second occurs when stakeholders fail to perceive that the organization is meeting expectations.

Stakeholders perception is very important. If they have concerns based on expectation gaps, then that stakeholder can become a reputation threat by taking action against the organization and generating negative publicity. Power, legitimacy and willingness are all attribute to stakeholders salience because stakeholders control the reputation of an organization.

Crisis managers must determine what actions to take on the serious threats. They monitor the threat if it does not pose immediate danger. If it does, they take immediate action. The best way to avoid a crisis is to be available.

Evaluating the effectiveness of threat reduction is important because without it the organization does not know if that change is effective.

Feedback is the most effective way to determine if a specific problem is resolved with satisfaction. Success in closing an expectation gap is determine by whether stakeholders percive the organizations as meeting expectations.

Paracrisies occur when the crisis managers must publicly manage a crisis threat. They are likely to occur for rumors, challenges, and product harm.

Crisis Preparation: Part I (Ch 5) & Crisis Management Chs 5 & 8

Vulnerabilities are assessed using a combination of likelihood of occurrences and severity of damage. Crisis mangers list all possible crises that could affect their organization. This is a result of brainstorming or an assessment done by a consultant. Then the crises are assessed and rated from 1 to 10 based on likelihood and impact.

The dominant selection criterion in the crisis management team is the functional approach. It posits that team members must represent specific functional divisions or positions within the organization, including legal, security, public relations, information technology, etc. Certain knowledge bases are required by each member on the CMT. Workers must be able to work together as a group. They must review and practice the CMP. They must all be great listeners. They must collect information to help create and enact the CMP.

It is best to designate one spokesperson. There is no set rule on deciding who it should be because it may vary depending on the type of crisis. Rank should not be the sole consideration. The sole considerations are: appearing pleasant on camera, able to answer questions effectively, able to present crisis information clearly, and able to handle difficult questions

A successful example of an online spokesperson was CEO Michael McCain of Maple Leaf Foods because of the4 sincerity and honesty in his voice.

Crisis Preparation: Part II (Ch 6) & Crisis Management Ch 5

The basic components of CMP are cover page, table of contents, crisis management team members, team member responsibilities, activation of the CMT, Command Center locations, response plans for specific crisis situations.

Crisis managers must make sure that physical setup of the communication system is prepared. Elements of the crisis communication system are the mass notification system, the crisis control center, and the intranet and Internet.


The Crisis Phase

Crisis Recognition (Ch 7)

Crisis team must prioritize the information needs as well as know where to go and whom to ask in order to collect information. High priority information should receive immediate attention and greater effort.

Information processing problems include serial reproduction errors, The MUM effect, message overload, information acquisition biases, and group-decision making errors.

Crisis Response (Ch 8)

The best way to respond to a crisis is to respond quickly, have one voice for consistency and be open. Organization managers and the organization are viewed as more credible when the organization reported the crisis before the other sources, which is known as sealing thunder.

One example is apples flawed iOS 8 crisis in 2014. The update caused some users to lose cell service, while others complained about the cell service. Seeing the user complaints on social media, Apple moved quickly to contain damage. They pulled out all iOS 8 devices within the hour and offered service to those affected.

They help establish consistency especially when there multiple spokespersons. This is essential to building credibility because a consistent message is more believable than inconsistent one.

The situational crisis communication theory is research that applies the attribution theory to crisis management. In PR, the SCCT has used attribution theory to develop and test recommendations for using crisis response strategies.

There are several crisis response strategies. These strategies include attacking the accuser, denial, scapegoating, excusing, justification, compensation, apology, reminding, ingratiation, and victimage

The crisis manager publicly states that the organization takes full responsibility for the crisis and ask for forgiveness. Taking the responsibility can be both an asset and a liability for crisis communication, because expense will increase. Is is best to apologize when there is evidence that the organization responsible.

While the initial response has mass media emphasis, follow up communication can better targeted to individual stakeholders. Follow-up communication can deal with the financial implications .


The Post-Crisis Phase

Post-Crisis Concerns (Ch 9)

It is critical to evaluate the efforts after a crisis ends. The crisis team should first examine all phases of its performance. Then the crisis impact should be evaluated, which should be less damaging than what was originally anticipated.

If the cause of the crisis is sill under investigation, the organization must cooperate and remain transparent. Follow-up communciation is crucial to ensure the company is on the right track.


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