Tag Archives: crisis

What is a Crisis?

22 Jan

During this weeks #journchat I brought up my crisis communications class and a few other PR students participating in the chat were eager to know what I would be learning. As a promise to them, I am going to be posting what I learn throughout the semester. Wednesday night was my first class and here are some aspects for the next 16 weeks.

  • Our professor likes to have us teach each other different chapters within the book (Crisis Management in the New Strategy Landscape). I’ve chosen the chapter on “Emerging Trends in Crisis Management.” Should be an interesting chapter to look at and it’s the last one so I have plenty of time to work on it.
  • Final Crisis Management Plan–We’re choosing a company we would LOVE to work at after graduation (more on that later on). For the company there will be different components that need to be accomplished over the semester.
  1. February chatter report–Basically I’m creating a Google Alert for every time my company mentioned and then putting together a clip book.
  2. Blog–Each week I will have to do a blog post relating to the chapters I read each week.
  3. Twitter–I have to tweet about the company 3 times a week
  4. YouTube video–I have to create a YouTube video. That should be very interesting
  5. Podcast–Creating a podcast for the my company
  • Final Crisis Management Plan Critique–I will have to critique 2 crisis management plans that my peers have done
  • Group case studies–Working on different crises in groups
  • Discussion leadership–We have to teach the class about a particular chapter and engage discussion
  • Participation–I think that explains itself really

Our professor opened class by asking us “What is a crisis?” After giving us time to write down a response, the class came up with this list of things that come to mind.

  • Unforeseen=without warning
  • Negative=bad light=problem=damaging
  • Company/person
  • Lead to positive
  • Immediate action
  • Preventing/planned for/symptoms
  • Reputation/sales/business process
  • Chaos/loss of control
  • Publicity
  • Learning opportunity
  • Can’t ignore
  • Requires a team=defined roles
  • Direct impact

After the class compiled this list, our professor told us what he has come with when thinking of a crisis.

  • Low probability
  • High impact
  • High ambiguity–new territory
  • Swift decision-making
  • Perception based

I feel like our list was a bit more detailed on a crisis and definitely hit all points in our professor’s list. Next we went over the response needed for a crisis. There’s short term and long term. In the short term, the company needs to address the crisis immediately and quickly collect information. For the long-term, the company needs to see how they can benefit and grow from the crisis. Of course the main example was the Tylenol incident, but then we need to come up with another example of a crisis and what to do in the short and long term.

When dealing with a crisis there are to types that can occur. One is a crisis from outside the company like the Tylenol incident because the poison was placed in the tablets which the company didn’t know about initially. The other is a crisis from inside the company, which has two different types. An inside error that occurs is something that the company does not intend on happening, like the Exxon oil spill. The other type is a deliberate action taken by the company, such as the Chinese companies that intentionally used lead when making toys, all while knowing the dangers.

Throughout the semester I’ll be reading about what to do before, during and after a crisis. More is focused on the before the crisis actually occurs, which is important because every company should have a plan. Hopefully with my updating about the class, it will help those whose schools don’t offer a crisis communication class.

One more thing I need some advice on what company I should choose. I originally thought the Yankees but I’m not too sure anymore because I could be a lot of information for me to handle in addition to my other course work and internship. Please please please if you have any ideas of a company that would be relevant from time to time please let me know.