Crisis Communications and Sharing Message Control

Crisis Communications and Sharing Message Control

Keri K. Stephens (University of Texas at Austin, USA) and Jessica L. Ford (University of Texas at Austin, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch196
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Chapter Preview

Top

Background

The term “crisis” is defined as a situation that can escalate in intensity, alter the normal operating condition of an organization, and potentially affect the organization’s image and bottom line (Fink, 1986). Crises include things like natural disasters, accidents, and product recalls (Seeger, 2006), and they are sometimes considered alongside studies of emergencies (e.g., Reynolds & Seeger, 2005). When communicating during crises and emergencies, there are high levels of uncertainty; thus there is a crucial need to share information that is accurate and timely (Coombs, 1999; Quarantelli, 1998; Seeger, 2006; Sorensen, 2000). Yet sending mass messages during a crisis might not reach the intended audience and can overload servers (Mastrodicasa, 2008).

While studying crisis communication is vital for understanding how to manage emerging situations, it is difficult to place crisis communication into a single discipline because scholars from several fields engage in related work. For example, the field of public relations has focused on understanding crisis message strategies (e.g., Benoit, 1997; Coombs, 1999; Stephens, Malone, & Bailey, 2005) and recent models explain how social media and technology are used during a crisis (e.g., Austin, Liu, & Jin, 2012). The field of crisis informatics bridges disciplines like information technology and emergency management in their efforts to explain how technology plays a key role in crisis communication (Hughes & Palen, 2009; Palen et al., 2010; Palen, Vieweg, & Liu, 2009; Sutton, Palen, & Shklovski, 2008; Stephens, Barrett, & Mahometa, 2013). Finally, the field of disaster sociology has an established tradition of understanding human behavior during a crisis or emergency (e.g., Quarantelli, 1998; Sorensen, 2000).

A common term used in the crisis literature is, “stakeholder.” This term originates from the field of management and Freeman’s (1984) original work conceptualizing stakeholders as groups of people or organizations that a firm has to manage because of their “stake” in the firm’s business. In their article reviewing the advances in stakeholder theory from its inception, Parmer et al. (2010) demonstrate how stakeholder theory has changed over time. Stakeholder management is now viewed as a way to connect both ethics and capitalism, as well as help managers understand how value is created through these relationships. This bi-directional view of how stakeholders and organizations interact provides a comprehensive framework for examining crisis communication.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Technical Translation: The process of explaining technical information to stakeholders.

Crisis: A situation that can escalate in intensity, alter the normal operating condition of an organization, and potentially affect the organization’s image and bottom line.

Stakeholder: Group of people or organizations that a firm has to manage because those groups have a “stake” in the firm’s business.

Crisis Informatics: Field of study that bridges disciplines like information technology and emergency management in their efforts to explain how technology plays a key role in crisis communication.

Message Strategies: Messages that are often associated with post-crisis responses originated by the organization experiencing the crisis.

Distributed Problem Solving Network: A dispersed group of people able to communicate virtually to solve problems.

Emergency: A situation related to a crisis that is viewed as urgent and can affect a large number of people.

Community Resilience: A process that links networks of resources to help communities adapt in times of adversity.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset