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Communication in Times of Trouble

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Communication in Times of Trouble

Matthew W. Seeger, Timothy L. Sellnow

ISBN: 978-1-119-23501-9 January 2019 Wiley-Blackwell 152 Pages

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Description

Presents the best practices of crisis communication and emergency risk communication

This book covers crisis communication strategies and focuses on practical applications for effective management. It includes an extensive discussion of best practices in pre-crisis, crisis and post crisis stages. The book pays special attention to the needs of meeting the needs of diverse audiences and communicating in a responsive and responsible way. The principles are appropriate for many kinds of events including earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, epidemics, and pandemics as well as industrial accidents, toxic spills, transportation disasters, fires and intentional events.

In the first chapter, Communication in Times of Trouble introduces the concept of best practices and establishes their relevance for crisis communication and emergency risk communication. A chapter is dedicated to each of the ten best practices. In each chapter, the best practice is described, examples of successful and unsuccessful application of the best practice in both organizational crises and natural disasters/emergencies are provided, advice for practical application is given, and a summary is provided. The concluding chapter details the challenges and opportunities for developing and implementing a response strategy that includes the best practices as a whole.

  • Focuses on application and explanation in crisis communication to benefit those with backgrounds in emergency management, risk management, political science, disaster sociology, and public health
  • Covers natural, large-scale emergencies such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, epidemics, and pandemics, which aren’t generally detailed in existing crisis communication texts
  • Presents 10 best practices for dealing with emergencies: Process Approach; Pre-Event Planning; Partnerships; Public Concern; Honesty; Collaborate; Media access; Compassion; Uncertainty; Empowerment
Communication in Times of Trouble will be of great interest to undergraduate students and practitioners in communication, public relations, public affairs, public information, public health, and emergency management. 

Acknowledgements ix

1 Introduction 1

What Is a Crisis? 2

What Do We Mean by Crisis Communication? 4

What Distinguishes Crisis Communication? 7

What Are Best Practices? 7

Summary 9

References 10

2 Process Approach: Take a Process Approach to Crisis Communication 11

What Do We Mean by “Communication Is a Process”? 12

What Does a Process Approach Mean for Crisis? 12

What Is a Crisis Life Cycle? 14

How Can These Stages Be Used by Crisis Communicators? 16

Why Should Communicators Participate in the Policy Formation Process? 17

Summary 19

References 20

3 Preevent Planning: Engage in Preevent Planning for Crisis

Communication 21

What Does Planning Involve? 21

What Is Crisis Communication Planning? 23

How Is a Plan Created? 24

How Is Risk Assessed? 25

What Is Included in a Crisis Plan? 26

Standard Elements of a Crisis Communication Plan 28

Implementing a Crisis Plan 29

Summary 30

References 31

4 Partnerships: Form Stakeholder Partnerships with Publics 33

Why Do Crisis Leaders Sometimes Avoid Communicating With Their Publics? 33

How Are Relationships With Publics Established? 34

What Is Dialog? 35

Why Do Some Agencies and Organizations Fail to Establish Dialog? 36

How Does Dialog Produce Partnerships With Publics? 37

Are There Times When Dialog Should Be Avoided? 38

What Roles Can Publics Play in Their Partnerships With Organizations and Agencies? 39

Summary 41

References 42

5 Public Concern: Listen to and Acknowledge Concerns of Publics 45

How Do Publics Respond to Risks? 46

What Communication Challenges Do Hazards Create? 46

What Communication Challenges Does Outrage Create? 49

How Should Agencies and Organizations Acknowledge the Concerns of Publics? 50

How Do Organizations and Agencies Anticipate Which Issues Are Likely to Produce Public Outrage? 51

How Can Organizations Communicate to Prevent and Manage Outrage? 52

Summary 54

References 55

6 Honesty: Communication With Honesty, Frankness, and Openness 57

Why Is It So Important to Be Honest? 58

What Does It Really Mean to Be Honest? 60

What Are Some Challenges to Being Honest During a Crisis? 62

How Is Openness Achieved During a Crisis? 64

Summary 66

References 67

7 Collaboration: Collaborate and Coordinate With Credible Sources 69

Who Are the Credible Partners for an Organization? 70

What Do Collaboration and Coordination Mean? 72

Why Are Collaboration and Coordination So Important? 75

How Can an Organization Create Collaboration and Coordination? 76

It Is Possible to Coordinate and Cooperate With Hostile Groups? 76

Summary 77

References 78

8 Media Access: Meet the Needs of the Media and Remain Accessible 79

Why Is Media Access Important? 80

What Does Accessibility Mean? 82

How Does an Organization Maintain Accessibility? 83

What Happens If Organizations Are Not Open During a Crisis? 85

Will the Media Tell a Negative Story Regardless of the Facts? 86

Summary 86

References 87

9 Compassion: Communicate With Compassion 89

What Is a Compassionate Response to Crisis? 90

Who Is the Best Organizational Spokesperson for Expressing Compassion? 92

When Is Expressing Compassion Most Important? 93

Should an Organization Express Compassion If Blame Is Uncertain? 94

How Should an Organization Express Compassion If Blame Is Certain? 94

How Should Spokespersons Express Compassion Through Social Media? 95

What Role Does Culture Play in the Expression of Compassion? 96

Summary 97

References 98

10 Uncertainty: Accept Uncertainty and Ambiguity 101

What Causes Uncertainty for Publics? 101

How Do Publics Respond to Uncertainty? 103

What Kind of Information Do Publics Seek to Reduce Their Uncertainty? 104

How Can Organizations Avoid Overreassuring Their Publics? 105

What Are Some Other Ways to Manage Uncertainty? 106

What Are the Ethical Standards for Managing Uncertainty? 108

Summary 110

References 111

11 Empowerment: Communicate Messages of Empowerment 113

How Can Messages Empower Publics? 113

What Are the Components of an Empowering Message? 114

How Can Risk and Crisis Communicators Help Their Publics Internalize the Risk? 114

How Should Messages Be Distributed to Publics? 116

How Much Explanation of the Crisis Is Necessary? 117

How Should Recommendations for Self‐Protective Actions Be Communicated? 118

What If Publics Are Given Competing Recommendations for Empowerment? 120

What Is the Role of Empowering Messages Outside the Acute Phase of Crisis? 121

Summary 122

References 123

12 Conclusion: Implementing the Best Practices 125

Are Crises Really Occurring More Often and Are They Getting Worse? 126

How Can an Organization Repair Its Damaged Image? 128

Are There Ever Positive Outcomes to a Crisis? 130

What Are the Challenges to Implementing the Best Practices? 132

How Can the Best Practices Approach to a Crisis Be Used? 133

Summary 134

References 135

Index 137