BEST PRACTICE FOR EFFECTIVE CRISIS COMMUNICATION
A crisis is not entirely a bad experience, if an organization learns from it. It can lead to positive change that enhances its competitive advantage. The difference is how the crisis is handled (Coombs 2010).
It is important for an organization to have a policy (formal guidelines and procedures) for effective communication with its stakeholders (employees and public) during a crisis. This is a proactive strategy, and focuses on crisis anticipation, detection, preparation, recognition, prevention or containment and recovery. This also involves identifying the communication and information needs of stakeholders and establishing a framework for meeting these needs early (Siangu 2013).
Second, networking enhances communication outreach. The social media, for example, can be utilized in emergency communications, including the effective monitoring and engagement of public discourse during crisis. Social media has been utilized for effective crisis communication in America’s health sector. Through its effective online public outreach has enabled Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep the public constantly informed and aware of any potential or real crisis. Its ‘Tip of the Week’ on its homepage, which also involves sending weekly tips to the many subscribers via e-mail, Twitter and text messages places CDC in a strategic position to mobilize its various stakeholders toward crisis resolution. This strategy worked well for CDC during the Hurricane Ike crisis that hit the Gulf Coast of Texas in September 2008. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA’s) data sharing with its various stakeholders through social media (Twitter and Blogging) has also worked well for building its network (Tinker et al. 2009).
After the crisis, the organization must assuage the fears of the stakeholders over potential recurrence of the crisis. It must continue to communicate with the stakeholders, informing them about business continuity. The organization should also continue to gather and analyze information about the crisis to learn from it and initiate necessary change to help avoid such a crisis happening again in the future (Coombs 2010).
Coombs, WT 2010. Parameters for crisis communication. In W.T. Coombs & S.J. Holladay,
The handbook of crisis communication, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell
Siangu, AK 2013. ‘An analysis of team effectiveness in crisis communication.’
International Journal of Humanities and Social Change, vol.3, no.7: pp. 320-326
Tinker, TL, Dumlao, M & McLaughlin, G 2009. Effective social media strategies during times
of crisis: learning from the CDC, HHS, FEMA, the American Red Cross and NPR. The Public Relations Strategist, Summer