Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Essence of Crisis Communications

During a recent Awareness Workshop I conducted on Crisis Communications in the Era of Social Media, I was asked by a participant if crisis communications could be defined in one word.

After some reflection, I answered "attribution" or, more specifically, "attributing responsibility".  This to me most accurately sums up the entire purpose and, for that matter, process of crisis communication.

According to research by Bernard Weiner, when a crisis erupts, stakeholders will seek to attribute responsibility.  Then depending on factors like locus of control, stability and controllability, the stronger the perceived link between the crisis and the organisation, the greater the attribution of responsibility.

Thus, at its essence, crisis communication is about guiding stakeholders to hold the "correct" cause responsible for the crisis.  And if the organisation is the cause, to help stakeholders to deal with their anger in a manner that does not adversely affect the organisation.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Fong,
    Excellent post and spot on.
    As we've counselled our clients for 20+ years, truth is the ultimate spin.
    Crisis communications is essentially shared comprehension during a disruption in a normal business cycle, which, of course, is the essence of preparation.
    Look forward to more of your posts.
    Your new fan,



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