To a Public Relations expert, a Crisis Communications plan offers a great opportunity for brands to redeem their lost image in the public domain. That is organizations who are proactive in the face of crisis emerge stronger with greater dominance.
Before we dive into what Crisis Communications entails in general, we should first check out the meaning of some of the terms related to the topic.
A crisis is any crucial or decisive point or situation, a turning point or an unstable situation in political, social, economic or military affairs especially one involving an impending abrupt change. While Crisis Communication is a sub-speciality of the public relations profession that is designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization facing a public challenge to its reputation.
According to communication scholar, Timothy Coombs, he describes crises as “perception of an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of stakeholders and can seriously impact an organization’s performance and generate negative outcome ”and crisis communication as the “collection, processing and dissemination of information required to address a crisis situation”.
Crisis Communications refers to a special wing which deals with the reputation of the individuals as well as the organization. it’s an initiative which aims at protecting the reputation of the organization and maintaining its public image. Various factors such as criminal attacks, government investigations, media enquiry can tarnish the image of an organization. Winston Churchill, a writer and a Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom said; never let a good crisis go to waste.
Y. A Shuaib in his book defined different types of crisis such as:
Natural crisis: Natural crises that are other known as natural disasters are events that are beyond the control of human beings. E.G floods and earthquakes.
Man-made crisis: Man-made crises, on the other hand, are human-induced disasters triggered by human activities.
Technological crisis: Technological crises are an occurrence that is aggravated by the technical failure of machines such as plane crash and fire incidents.
Confrontational crisis: This can be a mere revolt or outbreak of violence following a disagreement among individuals or groups.
Pandemic emergency crisis: The pandemic emergency crisis has to do with a health-related crisis, the outbreak of a disease that affects many people and country at the same time is called a pandemic.
However, crisis management is a deliberate attempt at responding to unexpected situations for lasting solutions. The effort is to combat the crisis and actually lessen the damages inflicted.
The three stages of Crisis Communication: the pre-crisis stage, the in crisis stage and the post-crisis stage.
The pre-crisis stage: the pre-crisis can also be described as the warning stage, in which a member of an organization usually the supervisor or manager discovers an impending critical situation, and warns the senior management about it.
The in crisis stage: otherwise known as “acute crisis” stage, in this stage the crisis is now apparent, it is necessary to activate the crisis management team at this stage.
The post-crisis stage: when the crisis moves from the acute crisis stage and is contained, this is the final stage of the crisis, it is at this stage that organizations try to recoup their losses.