Crisis communication developing strategiesto protect the reputation of the organisation in a crisis.Organisation reputation is the mostimportant intangible asset of any organisation and during crises organisationalreputation is under threat. Crisis communication is the means through whichorganisation attempt to restore their image and impede the damage ofreputational capital. Park and Cameron (2014) stated that strategic use of crisiscommunication determines the publics view towards the organisation accountablefor crisis (p. 491).
Based on crisis management theory effective crisiscommunication divide the crisis into three phase pre crisis, crisis responseand post-crisis (Coombs 2007, p. 1). Crisis communication is a part of crisis managementwhich develops the different communication strategies depending upon the phaseof crisis. The main aim of crisis communication is to deal crises with ethicalconsideration. Pre-crisis phase and communicationstrategies In most of scenario crisis are uncertainand unpredicted. Crisis can be resulted due to natural or artificialactivities.
As we know prevention is better than cure; organisation should trytheir best to avoid crisis. Accessing the potential risks and prior preparationagainst crisis minimises the possibility of crisis According to Coombs (2007) ‘Preparation involves creating the crisismanagement plan, selecting and training the crisis management team, andconducting exercises to test the crisis management plan and crisis managementteam’ (p. 2). A well-developed management plan and trained crisis managementteam act proactively and tackle the crisis beforehand. The crisis managementteam appoint one person as the spokesperson to communicate and update thedifferent beforehand strategies and activities we are undertaking to handle thecrisis to gain support of stakeholders during crisis. In addition, Coombs(2007) also mentioned that we should develop management plan, crisis managementteam, spokesperson, pre-drafted message and communication channel for effectivecrisis communication (p. 2). · Management Plan: a stepwise guide to manage crisis.
· Crisis Management Team: a team formed from cross functional departmentlike human resource, legal, security, public relation and operation to managecrisis. · Spokesperson: an authorized person to communicate to stakeholder and should betrained with media training practices. · Pre-drafted Message: template of crisis messages which will be usedduring crisis. · Communication Channel: We should separate website or allocate a sectionin our current website to communicate issues related to crisis. Pre-crisis phase is alsoknown as warning stage in which usually only limited people in the organizationfind it and circulate information among top management. According to Weiner(2006), ‘A coordinated approach to issues management can help an organization effectively identify and anticipate potentialissues, prevent crises from developing, and influence their evolution andoutcome’ (Ivey, p.
2). During initial stage of crisis, mass media is eluded andcrisis manager should analyze the potential harm and communicate among theconcerned authorities to preclude the crisis. We should conduct organizationaudit on regular basis to find all critical issues and categorized them bylikelihood of occurrence. So pre-crisis situation analysis helps to develop theeffective crisis communication strategies which help crisis manager to limitthe detrimental impact of crisis on the organization and its stakeholders. Response crisis phaseand communication strategiesCrisis is the unwelcomedsituation that any organization never wish to pass through.
When crisis hit theorganization, spokesperson should quickly notify the stakeholders. We shouldresponse to crisis quickly, if not, it may lead to loss of organizationreputation and jobs, decrease employee morale, government intervention,opportunity for competitors and decrease customer loyalty and management trust(Cassling 2014). Quick response to crisis reduce stress and chaossituation among stakeholders.
During crisis, manager should take theresponsibility and stand in front to deal with every crisis related issues. Astrong crisis management team is required to deal in such scenario.Says Quesada (2017), ‘It’s important to distinguish crises from issues andpotential conflicts’ (p. 2). To protect the situation to become even worsecrisis manager should safeguard crisis from mixing with issues and conflict.
Whatever information in hand should be communicated to all theinternal and external stakeholder. Crisis manager should communicate withempathy, clear message, confident and reflects that organization is handlingthe issues seriously Crisis has negativeimpact on stakeholders as well as organization and emotional crisiscommunication is applicable to connect with public and respond crisis. Theemotions can be expressed through verbal and nonverbal communication. Meer and Verhoeven (2014) tells’intentionally or unintentionally, spokesperson that represents an organizationin a crisis may display the emotions they are experiencing’ (p. 528). The spokesperson may use denial, diminish andrebuild strategies to response crisis (Coombs 2007, p. 171).
The main theme ofcrisis communication during crisis is to normalize the situation, defendbaseless allegation, communicate exact organization condition and plan to dealwith crisis ethically. Selecting the right medium for communicating duringcrisis is very important. Maintaining good relation with media, government,customers, shareholder and other stakeholders will ease the situation Not only word of apologyand sympathy are enough, stakeholder are looking at the action thatorganization is undertaking to console the victim and overcoming situation (Johar, Birk ).Employees are the ambassador of any organization; people will ask them aboutthe situation so they need to be updated with organization’s actionplan for crisis.
During crisis, communication plays vital role on easing thesituation, safeguarding organization reputation, reducing stakeholders stress,minimizing government intervention and defending market share. Example ofcrisis of Samsung which turned crisis to opportunity. Samsung recalled moreover 2 million Galaxy Note 7 due to overheating of batteries and explosion; 96percent were recalled globally which cost 5.
3 billion USD. DJ Koh, PresidentMobile Communications Business for Samsung Electronics said that customersafety comes first and focus on reinstate the trust in the brand. After detailinvestigation, Samsung found the root cause and developed the eight pointbattery safety system to make battery even stronger and trustworthy which setstandard for smartphone vendors (Forbes 22/01/2017).SPost crisis phase andcommunication strategiesRebuilding theorganization reputation is the key concern of post crisis communicationstrategies. Coombs (2007) tells us: ‘After crisis, customers can stop buyingproducts or community members may no longer support the organization’ (p. 170).Post crisis situation is related to the behavioral aspect of customerand community. Crisis management team should address this situation critically.
To some extent regaining organization reputation depend upon the pastreputation of organization. Corporate social responsibility of anorganization prove its positioning in community. Crisis managershould communicate all positive aspects of the organization, its pastrecord, and its contribution towards society to dilute the impact of crisis. CommentsRay (1991): ‘Post crisis provide the opportunity for an organizationto recover initial impact of a crisis and assess its situation’ (p.
161). Post crisis communication strategies clean up the mess created by thecrisis. Effective communication after crisis may capitalize the brand valueeven more strongly than before because organization can make its opportunity byreforming it entirely and can come up with new and contemporary approach. Crisis may have negativeimpact on an organization’s reputation but organization can capitalize it aslearning experience. Here communication manager will learn plenty of thing whenresponding to a crisis.
Crisis communication team will learn what could be donebest if it happens again and will have more confidence than in the presentcontext. Seeger, Sellnow and Ulmer (2003) stated that effective postcrisis communication passes through three stages: salving legitimacy, learningand healing. A crisis communication team and crisis manager should find out everyissue involved in crisis and handle each of these stages effectively.
· Salvaging legitimacy: deal with highlighting the positive aspect oforganization to stakeholders and image restoration. · Learning: It refers to learning from past and similar situation in bestpractice organization. · Healing: refers to the explainingthe situation in detail, forgetting bad moment and prepare for future.
Post crisiscommunication strategies are important to restore organization reputation,capitalizing impact of crisis by turning it in to opportunities and preservelegitimacy, learning and healing make the post crisis communication moreeffective. In addition, Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT)explained the different communication strategies depending upon differentsituation. Crisis communication strategies depends upon on the crisis type andlevel of threat imposed by crisis on organization reputation (Coombs 2007, p.171). In conclusion, crisesare uncertain and unpredicted situations which pose a threat to an organization’sreputation.
Organizations bear loss during crisis so prevent them from crisisor to lower loss they develop different crisis communication strategies. Crisiscommunication strategies depend upon the phase of crisis and they are precrisis communication strategies, during crisis communication strategies andpost crisis communication strategies. Pre-crisis communication strategies avoidthe situation of crisis and prepare it for crisis.
During crisis communicationstrategies deal with quick responses to the crisis with empathy. Spokespersonof crisis communication team share accurate information through best availablemedia to decrease reputation capital loss. Post crisis communication strategiestry to restore the organization reputation, regain customer trust and exploringopportunities. Effective post crisis communication strategies passes throughthree stages: rescue legitimacy, learning and healing.