Module JP050

Crisis PR

Module author

Michael B. Goodman

City University of New York

Learning objectives After you have studied this module, you will be able to:
  • Examine internal and external crisis communication types and functions.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of business functions and their importance for crisis communication.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of crisis communication theory and practice.
  • Use crisis communication tools and techniques.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of relevant literature.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of crisis communication in multinational corporations.
  • Articulate the impact of communication technologies on crisis communication practice.
  • Form a research plan.
  • Analyze crisis communication issues.
  • Propose effective solutions to crisis communication problems.
  • Demonstrate the ability to integrate crisis communication theory and practice.

Chapter 1: Executive summary
1.1 Crisis vs emergency
1.2 Corporate culture and crisis
1.3 Ethical business practices and corporate values

Chapter 2: Crisis communication definition

Chapter 3: Crisis model and stages
3.1 The pre-crisis phase
3.2 The initial phase of the crisis
3.3 The crisis maintenance phase
3.4 The crisis resolution phase
3.5 The evaluation phase

Chapter 4: Types of Communication Crises

Chapter 5: Crisis communication response

Chapter 6: Management of communication in a crisis

Chapter 7: Crisis communication on the Web

Chapter 8: Crisis communication planning

Chapter 9: Issues and reputation management

Chapter 10: Leading practices

Study points 2
Reading extract Crisis PR


Why Open School of Journalism believes that Crisis PR is important

Crisis PR is a specified subset of public relations. Crisis PR refers to the damage control aspect of an organization's relationship to their public. When a business, committee or individual has their reputation challenged, their public relations team or representative collaborate with and are assisted by various press and media in an effort to control focus and sway public opinion back in the favor of the company or individual they are representing. Crisis PR is also used to encourage confidence in investors, fans and supporters. Conveying confidence in products and decisions can be the difference between a favorable outcome and a catastrophic outcome. It is absolutely crucial for the success of a campaign, product launch, or other events that the public be at ease and in favor of the individual or individuals presented to them. Communicating in the proper way during a time of stress and uncertainty allows for the opinions of the targeted demographic to be nudged in a very clear direction.

One of the options that can be chosen as part of a Crisis PR strategy is an offensive campaign. This means that the public relations person or team uses connections to media to convey a very specific and often time-sensitive message (typically via commercial advertisement or press interview) explaining a negative situation or even distracting from the negative situation to highlight and refocus their audience on the positives. These kinds of campaigns are usually about conveying a situation or message to the public before negative information is shared with the public by competitors. Specialists in crisis PR maintain excellent relationships with the public and the media in order to ensure they are communicating the message in the correct and most effective way.

Defensive crisis PR is far more difficult. This is when a negative message about a client, whether corporation or person, begins to circulate throughout the public. This means that the public relations firm or public relations adviser must then construct a counter argument to the negative message or distract from it entirely.

The topic of crisis PR is crucial in the modern era. Public opinion is usually the difference between life and death for various political agendas, product launches and successful celebrity. Without any crisis PR, every hiccup in the public sphere could mean the end of business, careers, and political progress. Especially in the era of social media. Public opinion is formed so quickly after receiving the first wave of information. Because information, whether true or false, spreads so quickly in the internet age and mass opinions formed so fast, it is important for those who hold positions of power or influence to trust their reputation to someone who has the understanding of how a relationship with the public is formed and maintained.


Module overview

During this module on Crisis PR, you will learn and explore the various types of internal and external crisis communication. This information will allow fof a concise and consistent message to be formulated and communicated throughout the entire organization or team and then to the public. You will be educated on the importance of business function in relationship to crisis communication while being able to competently demonstrate the theories and practices that can be applied to conveying message during a crisis. You will learn about the tools and techniques used for communication and presentations of ideas and information. During this class you will also be educated on the impact technological advancements have had on the way crisis is communicated and interpreted. This course will also inform you on the difference between communicating an urgent message domestically and communicating and urgent message for multinational corporations.

Upon completing this course, you will be equipped with the knowledge necessary to respond to a crisis and form a research plan. You will be able to locate, analyze and potentially remove or lessen the impact of any crisis communication issues that may arise. This means that solutions can be reached quickly and effectively. You should be able to also include various theories and practices into your crisis communication after completing this course.

You will also be learning more basic things in this course. Such as the difference between an emergency and a crisis and how it affects public relations. You will learn about corporate culture and effective ways to communicate to those who operate in that sphere. Discussions about the ethics of crisis communication will also be facilitated throughout this class. Understanding the definition of crisis communication along with its relationship to different market places will be crucial. You will learn the five crisis stages: pre-crisis phase, initial crisis phase, crisis maintenance stage, crisis resolution, and crisis evaluation. At the end of this class you will be able to navigate and properly react to every stage of a public relations crisis. Discussions about the various kinds of communication crisis will allow you to determine what kind of crisis is being dealt with so that you can come to the proper solution and course of action appropriate to the situation. This course will also cover the proper ways to respond to a myriad of situations when dealing with a public relations crisis. You will also learn how to manage a message and unify group consensus in a time of crisis.

One of the most important things that you will be learning throughout the duration of this course is how to use the internet for crisis PR. The web can be an asset to those who know how to use it, but it can also be an absolute disaster if you are ill-equipped and do not know how to communicate effectively in this medium. You will be able to plan an offensive and defensive communication strategy using various sources of media and content. You will understand the importance of managing a clients issues and reputation. You will understand the importance of issue and reputation management as well as discuss the leading practices of crisis PR.