Crisis Management and Communications | Institute for Public Relations
Public relations practitioners are an integral part of crisis management teams. A crisis can create three related threats: (1) public safety, (2) financial loss, and (3 ) reputation loss. how a CMP saves time during a crisis by pre-assigning some tasks, .. At the end of this entry is an annotated bibliography. "You need to give yourself time to mourn the relationship and be ready and available for 1When They're Going Through A Crisis Plus, if you break up with someone on their birthday, they might end up revisiting this painful. These are not happy times for liberal internationalists. No one can be sure how deep the crisis of liberal internationalism runs. International Affairs, Volume 94, Issue 1, 1 January , Pages 7–23, jogglerwiki.info .. The order provides institutions, relationships, and rights and protections.
It was a narrow type of principled internationalism. Wilson-era liberal internationalism did not challenge European imperialism or racial hierarchies. British liberals explicitly defended empire and continued to see the world in racial and civilizational terms. The s saw a shift or reformulation of these ideas. Universal rights and protections became more central to the ideological vision. FDR's Four Freedoms of speech and worship, from want and fear were the defining vision for this new conception of liberal international order.
The postwar order was to be a security community—a global space where liberal democracies joined together to build a cooperative order that enshrined basic human rights and social protections. At the same time, these universal rights and protections were advanced and legitimated in terms of the American-led Cold War struggle. The United States would be the hegemonic sponsor and protector of the liberal order.
It would have rules, institutions, bargains and full-service political functions. To be inside this order was to enjoy trade, expanding growth, and tools for managing economic stability.
Inside, it was warm; outside, it was cold. Countries would be protected in alliance partnerships and an array of functional organizations. In other words, in the postwar era, liberal internationalism became both more universal in its ideas and principles and more tied to an American-led political order.
The United States came to take on a variety of functions and responsibilities. It came to have a direct role in running the order—and it also found itself increasingly tied to the other states within the order. It upheld the rules and institutions, fostered security cooperation, led the management of the world economy, and championed shared norms and cooperation among the western-oriented liberal democracies.
In the management of the world economy, the Bretton Woods international financial institutions became tied to the American market and dollar. American liberal hegemony, as a type of international order, had several key characteristics. First, it was built around open multilateral trade. In many ways, this was the key vision of the postwar American architects of liberal order. During the war, the question was debated: This was the era when most of the world's regions were divided into imperial zones, blocs and spheres of influence.
The American strategic judgement was that, on the contrary, the postwar world would need to be open and accessible to the United States. Out of these worries, the United States launched its efforts to open the world economy and build institutions and partnerships that would establish a durably open global order. International agreements, embodied in the Bretton Woods system, were designed to give governments greater ability to regulate and manage economic openness to ensure that it was reconciled with domestic economic stability and policies in pursuit of full employment.
The visionary goal was a middle ground between openness and stability.
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Free trade was essential for the sort of economic recovery and growth that would support centrist and progressive postwar political leadership in the United States and Europe. But trade and exchange would need to be reconciled with government efforts to ensure economic stability and the security of workers and the middle class.
Social and economic security went hand in hand with national security. Third, the postwar liberal order was built around new and permanent international institutions. To a greater extent than in Wilson's day, post liberal internationalists sought to build order around a system of multilateral governance.
This was a vision of intergovernmentalism more than supranationalism. Governments would remain the primary source of authority. But governments would organize their relations around permanent regional and global institutions. They would conduct relations on multilateral platforms—bargaining, consulting, coordinating.
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These institutions would serve multiple purposes. They would facilitate cooperation by providing venues for ongoing bargaining and exchange. They would reinforce norms of equality and non-discrimination, thereby giving the order more legitimacy.
And they would tie the United States more closely to its postwar partners, reducing worries about domination and abandonment. The result was an unprecedented effort across economic, political and security policy spheres to build working multilateral institutions. Fourth, there was a special emphasis on relations among the western liberal democracies. FDR's Four Freedoms were of this sort, and so too were the principles of multilateralism embedded in the postwar economic institutions.
But the order itself was organized around the United States and its liberal democratic allies and clients. The fact that it was built inside the larger Cold War-era bipolar system reinforced this orientation. Architects of the order understood that there was a special relationship among the western liberal democracies. At first this encompassed essentially just western Europe and Japan; but in the aftermath of the Cold War a larger and more diverse community of democracies took hold.
The essential premise of American global leadership was that there is something special and enduring about the alignment of democracies. They have shared interests and values. American presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama have acted on the assumption that democracies have a unique capacity to cooperate. This liberal hegemonic order flourished over the decades of the Cold War.
It provided a framework for the liberalization of trade and decades of growth across the advanced industrial world. Incomes and life opportunities steadily increased for the postwar generations of Europeans, Japanese and Americans. To be inside this liberal hegemonic order was to be positioned inside a set of full-service economic, political and security institutions. Crises and transformations The foundations of this postwar liberal hegemonic order are weakening.
In a simple sense, this is a story of grand shifts in the distribution of power and the consequences that follow. The United States and its allies are less powerful than they were when they built the postwar order. The unipolar moment—when the United States dominated world economic and military rankings—is ending.
Europe and Japan have also weakened. Together, this old triad of patrons of the postwar liberal order is slowly dwindling in its share of the wider global distribution of power. Rather, it is simply a gradual diffusion of power away from the West. China will probably not replace the United States as an illiberal hegemon, and the global South will probably not emerge as a geopolitical bloc that directly challenges the US-led order.
But the United States—and its old allies—will continue to be a smaller part of the global whole, and this will constrain their ability to support and defend the liberal international order. The political troubles of western liberal democracies magnify the implications of these global power shifts.
As noted above, democracies everywhere are facing internal difficulties and discontents. The older western democracies are experiencing rising inequality, economic stagnation, fiscal crisis, and political polarization and gridlock. Many newer and poorer democracies, meanwhile, are beset by corruption, backsliding and rising inequality. As democracies fail to address problems, their domestic legitimacy is diminished and increasingly challenged by resurgent nationalist, populist and xenophobic movements.
Together, these developments cast a dark shadow over the democratic future. During the Cold War, the American-led liberal order was lodged within the western side of the bipolar world system. It was during these decades that the foundations of liberal hegemonic order were laid. This had several consequences. One was that the United States became the sole superpower—the world entered the unipolar moment.
This made American power itself an issue in world politics. During the Cold War, American power had a functional role in the system: With the sudden emergence of unipolarity, American power was less constrained—and it did not play the same system-functional role.
New debates emerged about the character of American hegemonic power. What would restrain American power? Was the United States now an informal empire? The seeds of crisis were planted at this moment of triumph.
The liberal international order was, in effect, globalized. It was freed from its Cold War foundations and rapidly became the platform for an expanding global system of liberal democracy, markets and complex interdependence. During the Cold War, the liberal order was a global subsystem—and the bipolar global system served to reinforce the roles, commitments, identity and community that were together manifest as liberal hegemony. The crisis of liberal internationalism can be seen as a slow-motion reaction to this deep transformation in the geopolitical setting of the postwar liberal international project.
Specifically, the globalization of liberal internationalism put in motion two long-term effects: First, with the collapse of the Soviet sphere, the American-led liberal international order became the only surviving framework for order, and a growing number and diversity of states began to be integrated into it.
This created new problems for the governance of the order. During the Cold War, the western-oriented liberal order was led by the United States, Europe and Japan, and it was organized around a complex array of bargains, working relationships and institutions.
Indeed, in the early postwar years, most of the core agreements about trade, finance and monetary relations were hammered out between the United States and Britain. These countries did not agree on everything, but relative to the rest of the world, this was a small and homogeneous group of western states.
Their economies converged, their interests were aligned and they generally trusted each other. These countries were also on the same side of the Cold War, and the American-led alliance system reinforced cooperation. This system of alliance made it easier for the United States and its partners to make commitments and bear burdens.
It made it easier for European and east Asian states to agree to operate within an American-led liberal order. In this sense, the Cold War roots of the postwar liberal order reinforced the sense that the liberal democracies were involved in a common political project. With the end of the Cold War, these foundational supports for liberal order were loosened. More, and more diverse, states entered the order—with new visions and agendas. The post-Cold War era also brought into play new and complex global issues, such as climate change, terrorism and weapons proliferation, and the growing challenges of interdependence.
These are particularly hard issues on which to reach agreement among states coming from very different regions, with similarly different political orientations and levels of development. As a result, the challenges to multilateral cooperation have grown. At the core of these challenges has been the problem of authority and governance. Who pays, who adjusts, who leads?
Rising non-western states began to seek a greater voice in the governance of the expanding liberal order. How would authority across this order be redistributed? The old coalition of states—led by the United States, Europe and Japan—built a postwar order on layers of bargains, institutions and working relationships.
But this old trilateral core is not the centre of the global system in the way it once was. The crisis of liberal order today is in part a problem of how to reorganize the governance of this order. The old foundations have been weakened, but new bargains and governance arrangements are yet to be fully negotiated. During the Cold War, the American-led postwar order had a shared sense that it was a community of liberal democracies that were made physically safer and economically more secure by affiliating with each other.
The first several generations of the postwar period understood that to be inside this order was to be in a political and economic space where their societies could prosper and be protected. Trade and economic openness were rendered more or less compatible with economic security, stable employment and advancing living standards.
The western-oriented liberal order had features of a security community—a sort of mutual protection society. Membership of this order was attractive because it provided tangible rights and benefits. It was a system of multilateral cooperation that provided national governments with tools and capacities to pursue economic stability and advancement.
This idea of liberal order as a security community is often lost in the narratives of the postwar era. The common interests were manifest, for example, in the gains that flowed from trade and the benefits of alliance cooperation. The shared values were manifest in a degree of public trust and ready capacity for cooperation rooted in the values and institutions of liberal democracy.
Mutual vulnerability was a sense that these countries were experiencing a similar set of large-scale perils—flowing from the great dangers and uncertainties of geopolitics and modernity.
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Modernization is an inherently unsettling march into the future. With the end of the Cold War and the globalization of the liberal order, this sense of security community was undermined.
This happened in the first instance, as noted above, through the rapid expansion in the number and variety of states in the order. The liberal order lost its identity as a western security community.
It was now a far-flung platform for trade, exchange and multilateral cooperation. The democratic world was now less Anglo-American, less western.
It embodied most of the world—developed, developing, North and South, colonial and post-colonial, Asian and European. The result was an increasing divergence of views across the order about its members, their place in the world, and their historical legacies and grievances.
There was less of a sense that liberal internationalism was a community with a shared narrative of its past and future. The social purposes of the liberal order were further undermined by rising economic insecurity and grievance across the western industrial world.
Since the financial crisis at least, the fortunes of workers and middle-class citizens in Europe and the United States have stagnated.
For example, in the United States almost all the growth in wealth since the s has gone to the top 20 per cent of earners in society. The post-Cold War growth in trade and interdependence does not seem to have directly advanced the incomes and life opportunities of many segments of the western liberal democracies.
Looking across global income levels, Milanovic finds that the vast bulk of gains in real per capita income have been made in two very different groups. One comprises workers in countries such as China and India who have taken jobs in low-end manufacturing and service jobs, and, starting at very low wage levels, have experienced dramatic gains—even if they remain at the lower end of the global income spectrum.
This is the hump of the elephant's back.
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The other group is the top 1 per cent—and, indeed, the top 0. This is the elephant's trunk, extended upward. Under these adverse economic conditions, it is harder today than in the past to see the liberal order as a source of economic security and protection.
Across the western liberal democratic world, liberal internationalism looks more like neo-liberalism—a framework for international capitalist transactions. It is less obvious today that the liberal democratic world is a security community. What do citizens in western democracies get from liberal internationalism? How does an open and loosely rules-based international order deliver security—economic or physical—to the lives of the great middle class?
Liberal internationalism across the twentieth century was tied to progressive agendas within western liberal democracies. Liberal internationalism was seen not as the enemy of nationalism, but as a tool to give governments capacities to pursue economic security and advancements at home. What has happened in the last several decades is that this connection between progressivism at home and liberal internationalism abroad has been broken.
Conclusions For the past 70 years, liberal internationalism has been embedded in the postwar American hegemonic order. It is an order that has been marked by economic openness and security cooperation as well as collective efforts to keep the peace, promote the rule of law, and sustain an array of international institutions organized to manage the modern problems of interdependence.
This expansive version of liberal order emerged in fits and starts during the twentieth century as the United States and Europe struggled with the great dangers and catastrophes that shocked and shook the world—world war, economic depression, trade wars, fascism, totalitarianism and vast social injustices. Today this American-led era of liberal internationalism looks increasingly beleaguered.
Arpan and Rosko-Ewoldsen conducted a study that documented how a quick, early response allows an organization to generate greater credibility than a slow response. Crisis preparation will make it easier for crisis managers to respond quickly. Obviously accuracy is important anytime an organization communicates with publics. People want accurate information about what happened and how that event might affect them. Because of the time pressure in a crisis, there is a risk of inaccurate information.
If mistakes are made, they must be corrected. However, inaccuracies make an organization look inconsistent. Incorrect statements must be corrected making an organization appear to be incompetent. The philosophy of speaking with one voice in a crisis is a way to maintain accuracy. Speaking with one voice does not mean only one person speaks for the organization for the duration of the crisis. As Barton notes, it is physically impossible to expect one person to speak for an organization if a crisis lasts for over a day.
Watch news coverage of a crisis and you most likely will see multiple people speak. The news media want to ask questions of experts so they may need to talk to a person in operations or one from security. The crisis team needs to share information so that different people can still convey a consistent message. The spokespersons should be briefed on the same information and the key points the organization is trying to convey in the messages. The public relations department should be instrumental in preparing the spokespersons.
Ideally, potential spokespersons are trained and practice media relations skills prior to any crisis. The focus during a crisis then should be on the key information to be delivered rather than how to handle the media.
Once more preparation helps by making sure the various spokespersons have the proper media relations training and skills. Quickness and accuracy play an important role in public safety. When public safety is a concern, people need to know what they must do to protect themselves.
Sturges refer to this information as instructing information. Instructing information must be quick and accurate to be useful. For instance, people must know as soon as possible not to eat contaminated foods or to shelter-in-place during a chemical release. A slow or inaccurate response can increase the risk of injuries and possibly deaths.
Quick actions can also save money by preventing further damage and protecting reputations by showing that the organization is in control. However, speed is meaningless if the information is wrong. Inaccurate information can increase rather than decrease the threat to public safety.
The news media are drawn to crises and are a useful way to reach a wide array of publics quickly. So it is logical that crisis response research has devoted considerable attention to media relations.
Media relations allows crisis managers to reach a wide range of stakeholders fast. Fast and wide ranging is perfect for public safety—get the message out quickly and to as many people as possible. Clearly there is waste as non-targets receive the message but speed and reach are more important at the initial stage of the crisis.
However, the news media is not the only channel crisis managers can and should use to reach stakeholders. Web sites, Intranet sites, and mass notification systems add to the news media coverage and help to provide a quick response. Crisis managers can supply greater amounts of their own information on a web site.
Not all targets will use the web site but enough do to justify the inclusion of web-base communication in a crisis response. Mass notification systems deliver short messages to specific individuals through a mix of phone, text messaging, voice messages, and e-mail.
The systems also allow people to send responses. In organizations with effective Intranet systems, the Intranet is a useful vehicle for reaching employees as well. If an organization integrates its Intranet with suppliers and customers, these stakeholders can be reached as well. As the crisis management effort progresses, the channels can be more selective.
Victims are the people that are hurt or inconvenienced in some way by the crisis. Victims might have lost money, become ill, had to evacuate, or suffered property damage.
Kellerman details when it is appropriate to express regret. Expressions of concern help to lessen reputational damage and to reduce financial losses. Experimental studies by Coombs and Holladay and by Dean found that organizations did experience less reputational damage when an expression of concern is offered verses a response lacking an expression of concern.
Cohen examined legal cases and found early expressions of concern help to reduce the number and amount of claims made against an organization for the crisis.
However, Tyler reminds us that there are limits to expressions of concern. Lawyers may try to use expressions of concern as admissions of guilt. A number of states have laws that protect expressions of concern from being used against an organization. Another concern is that as more crisis managers express concern, the expressions of concern may lose their effect of people. Hearit cautions that expressions of concern will seem too routine.
Still, a failure to provide a routine response could hurt an organization. Hence, expressions of concern may be expected and provide little benefit when used but can inflict damage when not used. His strongest lesson was that crisis managers should never forget employees are important publics during a crisis. The Business Roundtable and Corporate Leadership Council remind us that employees need to know what happened, what they should do, and how the crisis will affect them.
The earlier discussions of mass notification systems and the Intranet are examples of how to reach employees with information. West Pharmaceuticals had a production facility in Kinston, North Carolina leveled by an explosion in January Coombs b examined how West Pharmaceuticals used a mix of channels to keep employees apprised of how the plant explosion would affect them in terms of when they would work, where they would work, and their benefits.
Moreover, Coombs a identifies research that suggest well informed employees provide an additional channel of communication for reaching other stakeholders. When the crisis results in serious injuries or deaths, crisis management must include stress and trauma counseling for employees and other victims.
One illustration is the trauma teams dispatched by airlines following a plane crash. Both the Business Roundtable and Coombs a note that crisis managers must consider how the crisis stress might affect the employees, victims, and their families. Organizations must provide the necessary resources to help these groups cope. We can take a specific set of both form and content lessons from the writing on the initial crisis response. Form refers to the basic structure of the response.
The initial crisis response should be delivered in the first hour after a crisis and be vetted for accuracy. Content refers to what is covered in the initial crisis response. The initial message must provide any information needed to aid public safety, provide basic information about what has happened, and offer concern if there are victims. In addition, crisis managers must work to have a consistent message between spokespersons.
Initial Crisis Response Best Practices 1. Be quick and try to have initial response within the first hour. Be accurate by carefully checking all facts. Be consistent by keeping spokespeople informed of crisis events and key message points. Make public safety the number one priority.
Use all of the available communication channels including the Internet, Intranet, and mass notification systems. Remember to include employees in the initial response. Be ready to provide stress and trauma counseling to victims of the crisis and their families, including employees.
Reputation Repair and Behavioral Intentions A number of researchers in public relations, communication, and marketing have shed light on how to repair the reputational damage a crisis inflicts on an organization.
At the center of this research is a list of reputation repair strategies. Bill Benoit ; has done the most to identify the reputation repair strategies. He analyzed and synthesized strategies from many different research traditions that shared a concern for reputation repair. Coombs a integrated the work of Benoit with others to create a master list that integrated various writings into one list.
The reputation repair strategies vary in terms of how much they accommodate victims of this crisis those at risk or harmed by the crisis. Accommodate means that the response focuses more on helping the victims than on addressing organizational concerns. The master list arranges the reputation repair strategies from the least to the most accommodative reputation repair strategies.
For more information on reputation repair strategies see also Ulmer, Sellnow, and Seeger, Master List of Reputation Repair Strategies 1. It should be noted that reputation repair can be used in the crisis response phase, post-crisis phase, or both.
Not all crises need reputation repair efforts. Frequently the instructing information and expressions of concern are enough to protect the reputation. When a strong reputation repair effort is required, that effort will carry over into the post-crisis phase. Or, crisis managers may feel more comfortable waiting until the post-crisis phase to address reputation concerns.
A list of reputation repair strategies by itself has little utility. Researchers have begun to explore when a specific reputation repair strategy or combination of strategies should be used. These researchers frequently have used attribution theory to develop guidelines for the use of reputation repair strategies. A short explanation of attribution theory is provided along with its relationship to crisis management followed by a summary of lessons learned from this research.
Attribution theory believes that people try to explain why events happen, especially events that are sudden and negative. Generally, people either attribute responsibility for the event to the situation or the person in the situation. Attributions generate emotions and affect how people interact with those involved in the event. Crises are negative create damage or threat of damage and are often sudden so they create attributions of responsibility. People either blame the organization in crisis or the situation.
If people blame the organization, anger is created and people react negatively toward the organization. Three negative reactions to attributing crisis responsibility to an organization have been documented: Coombs pioneered the application of attribution theory to crisis management in the public relations literature. His article began to lay out a theory-based approach to matching the reputation repair strategies to the crisis situation.
SCCT argues that crisis managers match their reputation repair strategies to the reputational threat of the crisis situation. Crisis managers follow a two-step process to assess the reputational threat of a crisis. The first step is to determine the basic crisis type. A crisis managers considers how the news media and other stakeholders are defining the crisis. Coombs and Holladay had respondents evaluate crisis types based on attributions of crisis responsibility. They distilled this data to group the basic crises according to the reputational threat each one posed.
Table 6 provides a list the basic crisis types and their reputational threat. Minimal Crisis Responsibility Natural disasters: Low Crisis Responsibility Challenges: Technical error product harm: Strong Crisis Responsibility Human-error accidents: The second step is to review the intensifying factors of crisis history and prior reputation. If an organization has a history of similar crises or has a negative prior reputation, the reputational threat is intensified.
All victims or potential victims should receive instructing information, including recall information. This is one-half of the base response to a crisis. All victims should be provided an expression of sympathy, any information about corrective actions and trauma counseling when needed.
For crises with minimal attributions of crisis responsibility and no intensifying factors, instructing information and care response is sufficient. The compensation strategy is used anytime victims suffer serious harm. The reminder and ingratiation strategies can be used to supplement any response. Denial and attack the accuser strategies are best used only for rumor and challenge crises.
In general, a reputation is how stakeholder perceive an organization. A reputation is widely recognized as a valuable, intangible asset for an organization and is worth protecting. But the threat posed by a crisis extends to behavioral intentions as well. Increased attributions of organizational responsibility for a crisis result in a greater likelihood of negative word-of-mouth about the organization and reduced purchase intention from the organization.
Post-Crisis Phase In the post-crisis phase, the organization is returning to business as usual. As noted earlier, reputation repair may be continued or initiated during this phase. There is important follow-up communication that is required. First, crisis managers often promise to provide additional information during the crisis phase. The crisis managers must deliver on those informational promises or risk losing the trust of publics wanting the information.
The amount of follow-up communication required depends on the amount of information promised during the crisis and the length of time it takes to complete the recovery process. If you promised a reporter a damage estimate, for example, be sure to deliver that estimate when it is ready.
West Pharmaceuticals provided recovery updates for over a year because that is how long it took to build a new facility to replace the one destroyed in an explosion. As Dowlingthe Corporate Leadership Counseland the Business Roundtable observe, Intranets are an excellent way to keep employees updated, if the employees have ways to access the site.
Coombs a reports how mass notification systems can be used as well to deliver update messages to employees and other publics via phones, text messages, voice messages, and e-mail.
Personal e-mails and phone calls can be used too. Crisis managers agree that a crisis should be a learning experience. The crisis management effort needs to be evaluated to see what is working and what needs improvement.
The same holds true for exercises. Coombs recommends every crisis management exercise be carefully dissected as a learning experience. As most books on crisis management note, those lessons are then integrated into the pre-crisis and crisis response phases. That is how management learns and improves its crisis management process. Post-Crisis Phase Best Practices 1.