Crisis Communications

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Crisis communication is the most important aspect of external and internal organization communication. This type of communication ranges from image restoration campaigns to employee turnover. In the articles that I have analyzed, I discovered many examples of crisis communications and its importance. I will discuss the Bridgestone-Firestone Corporation's image restoration campaign and explain Benoit's theory of image restoration. Also, I will discuss how crisis communications fits into public relations models. Two examples for discussion will be how supervisors should convey bad-news to their employees, and group communication within employee turnover. My last example for this discussion will be Bill Clinton's image repair discourse.

This essay will analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of crisis communications and its place within an organization. As stated earlier, I will discuss different examples retrieved from five scholarly articles that are relevant to this topic. I hope to convey the importance of crisis communications.

In the article "Blowout! Firestone's Image Restoration Campaign" Blaney, Benoit, and Brazeal (2002) discuss how Firestone failed in its recovery efforts. The authors claim that Firestone's attempt to shift blame was "poorly conceived." (p. 379) Also, they claim the use of celebrities to support their products and reputation was unsuccessful due to the obvious financial relationships between them. This discussion leads up to the application of Benoit's image restoration theory. (2002). This theory states that "communicators who need to restore damaged reputations have five general rhetorical options: denial, evading responsibility, reducing offensiveness, corrective action, and mortification." (p.380) The author's conclude that this case study displays "denial and, sadly, concealment of incriminating data, are common responses to wrongful action. Had corrective action been implemented immediately, it seems likely that many deaths and injuries could have been avoided." (p.388-389)

This article gives a great example of how important crisis communications is. The failed image restoration campaign still haunts this corporation. Blaney, Benoit, and Brazeal make a valid point of why this campaign was unsuccessful. Organizations must educate their selves on proper crisis communication tactics. This type of communication proved to be invaluable to this particular group and not utilizing it properly nearly destroyed them.

John E. Guiniven's article "Dealing with Activism in Canada: An Ideal Cultural Fit for the Two-Way Symmetrical Public Relations Model" (2002) is a discussion on how public relations practitioners deal with different public issues. Guiniven states that the two-way model should be applied "where the research is used for uncovering points of agreement and where the goal is open dialogue and honest exchanges in an effort to resolve conflict and reach a compromise." (p.396) Also, the author discusses the differences between the United States and Canada that public relations practitioners must face. An example would be how less confrontational activists are in Canada. Guiniven concluded "that the greater acceptance of two-way symmetrical communication in Canada than in the United States results from the tradition of compromise embedded in Canadian culture." (p. 393)

Public relations practitioners must adapt to different circumstances. One of the more difficult areas to change are the methods of crisis communications. Confronting activists is something that organizations must have success in. The two-way model discussed in this article gives a good view on resolving conflicts. I believe this model to be an example to follow for practitioners wanting successful crisis communications strategies.

The article "How Supervisors Convey Routine Bad News: Facework at UPS" (1999) by Ruth Wagoner and Vincent R. Waldron is an interesting case study. The authors...
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