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Effective Crisis Communication
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Effective Crisis Communication
Moving From Crisis to Opportunity

Fourth Edition


November 2017 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

In this fully updated Fourth Edition of Effective Crisis Communication, three of today’s most respected crisis/risk communication scholars provide the latest theories and innovative approaches for handling crisis. Unlike other crisis communication texts, this acclaimed book answers the question, “what now?” and explains how organizations can create the potential for opportunity, renewal, and growth through effective crisis communication. Authors Robert R. Ulmer, Timothy L. Sellnow, and Matthew W. Seeger provide guidelines for taking the many challenges that crises present and turning those challenges into opportunities. Practical lessons and in-depth case studies highlight successes and failures in dealing with core issues of crisis leadership, including managing uncertainty, communicating effectively, understanding risk, promoting communication ethics, enabling organizational learning, and producing renewing responses to crisis. 

New to the Fourth Edition: 

  • New and updated examples and case studies include diverse cases from recent headlines such as SeaWorld’s reaction to Blackfish, the United Airlines debacle, and the Flint Water Crisis.
  • Updated theories and references throughout provide readers with the latest information for effective crisis communication. 


 
Preface
 
Acknowledgments
 
PART I. THE CONCEPTUAL FOUNDATION
 
Chapter 1. Defining Crisis Communication
A Definition of Crisis Communication

 
Expanding the Traditional Definition of Crisis

 
Disasters, Emergencies, Crisis, and Risk

 
Types of Crises

 
The Significance of Crisis in a Global Environment

 
Understanding the Misconceptions Associated With Crises and Crisis Communication

 
Summary

 
 
Chapter 2. Understanding Crisis Communication Theory and Practice
Media Theories and Crisis Communication

 
Organizational Theories of Crisis Communication

 
Crisis Communication Theories That Describe, Explain, and Prescribe

 
Understanding and Defining the Threat Bias in Crisis Communication

 
Summary

 
 
PART II. THE LESSONS AND PRACTICAL APPLICATION
 
Chapter 3. Lessons on Effective Crisis Communication
Determining Your Goals

 
Partnering With Crisis Audiences

 
Understanding the Diversity of Your Audiences

 
Primary and Secondary Stakeholders Defined

 
Communicating With Underrepresented Groups During Crises

 
A Word on Partnerships and Listening

 
What Information Do Stakeholders Need Following a Crisis?

 
Is Certain Communication Always the Best Approach?

 
Avoid Overreassuring Your Stakeholders

 
Tell Your Stakeholders How to Protect Themselves

 
Reducing and Intensifying Uncertainty Before, During, and After Organizational Crises

 
Social Media and Effective Crisis Communication

 
The Power of Positive Action

 
Summary

 
 
Chapter 4. Applying the Lessons to Produce Effective Crisis Communication
Example 4.1. The Largest Environmental Crisis in United States History: BP and the United States Coast Guard Respond

 
Example 4.2. A Plant Fire at Malden Mills

 
Example 4.3. Long-Term Complexities in the Tainted Odwalla Apple Juice Crisis

 
Example 4.4. What’s in a Name?: Beef Products Incorporated Face “Pink Slime”

 
Example 4.5. Rural Renewal After a Tornado in Greensburg, Kansas

 
Example 4.6. A Costly YouTube Hoax for Domino’s Pizza

 
 
Chapter 5. Lessons on Managing Crisis Uncertainty Effectively
Defining Uncertainty

 
Unexpected Crises and Uncertainty

 
Nonroutine Crisis Events and Uncertainty

 
Threat Perception and Uncertainty

 
Short Response Time and Uncertainty

 
The Impact of Crisis-Induced Uncertainty on Stakeholders

 
Managing Communication Ambiguity Ethically During Crisis

 
Consistent Questions of Ambiguity

 
Training, Simulations, and Uncertainty

 
Belief Structures and Uncertainty

 
Summary

 
 
Chapter 6. Applying the Lessons for Managing Crisis Uncertainty Effectively
Example 6.1. Tennessee Valley Authority and the Kingston Ash Slide

 
Example 6.2. L’Aquila: A Case of Miscommunication

 
Example 6.3. General Motors and Mary Barra

 
Example 6.4. King Car’s Response to the 2008 Melamine Crisis

 
Example 6.5. Flint, Michigan, Water Contamination

 
Example 6.6. Fukushima Daiichi: Uncertainty Created by Three Interrelated Crisis Events

 
 
Chapter 7. Lessons on Effective Crisis Leadership
The Importance of Effective Leadership

 
Why Visibility Following a Crisis Is Important

 
Developing Networks of Support

 
Being Available, Open, and Honest

 
The Impact of Leadership on Renewal Following a Crisis

 
Ineffective Leadership During a Crisis

 
What Makes an Effective Crisis Leader?

 
Leadership Virtues

 
Managing Uncertainty, Responding, Resolving, and Learning From Crisis

 
Summary

 
 
Chapter 8. Applying the Lessons for Developing Effective Crisis Leadership
Example 8.1. The Sweeping Impact of a Contaminated Food Ingredient: Peanut Corporation of America

 
Example 8.2. A Fire at Cole Hardwood

 
Example 8.3. The Largest Food-Borne Illness Outbreak in History: Schwan’s Sales Enterprises

 
Example 8.4. Freedom Industries and the West Virginia Drinking Water Contamination

 
Example 8.5. United Airlines: Failed Crisis Leadership

 
Example 8.6. SeaWorld’s Orca: A Symbol of Tragedy

 
 
PART III. THE OPPORTUNITIES
 
Chapter 9. Learning Through Failure
Failing to Learn From Failure

 
Learning Through Failure

 
Vicarious Learning

 
Organizational Memory

 
Unlearning

 
Summary

 
 
Chapter 10. Risk Communication
Distinguishing Between Risk and Crisis

 
Identifying Risk

 
Mindfulness

 
Analyzing Multiple Audiences

 
Convergence Theory and Risk Communication

 
Responsible Risk Communication

 
Summary

 
 
Chapter 11. Responding to the Ethical Demands of Crisis
Ethics

 
Corporations as Moral Agents

 
Values

 
Values and Crisis

 
Responsibility and Accountability

 
Access to Information

 
Humanism and Care

 
The Role of Values in a Crisis Response

 
Summary

 
 
Chapter 12. Facilitating Renewal Through Effective Crisis Communication
Considering the Opportunities Associated With Crisis

 
Theoretical Components of the Discourse of Renewal

 
Summary of the Discourse of Renewal

 
The Discourse of Renewal and Crisis Planning

 
Summary

 
 
References
 
Index
 
About the Authors
Key features
NEW TO THIS EDITION:
  • New and updated examples and case studies include diverse cases from recent headlines such as SeaWorld’s reaction to Blackfish, the United Airlines debacle, and the Flint Water Crisis.
  • Updated theories and references throughout provide readers with the latest information for effective crisis communication. 

KEY FEATURE: 

 

  • Theory-based and practical lessons in the introductory chapters cover managing uncertainty and effective crisis communication and leadership, setting the stage for the case studies that follow.
  • Timely cases and practical guidelines show readers how organizations can take the challenges presented by crises and turn them into opportunities.
  • Coverage of ethics is included in every chapter.
  • You Make the Call exercises ask readers to examine and build their own crisis communication skills by critiquing the decisions made in a wide range of recent important cases.

For instructors

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