Pr Crisis Strategy for Usps

Topics: United States Postal Service, Public relations, Mail Pages: 14 (4961 words) Published: August 8, 2012
“Uncertainty and the unknown are the great enemies of clear and successful communication that solves a problem” (Hendrix & Hayes, 2010, p. 385). When an organization or company faces a crisis, it is the role of the PR department to develop and carry out strategies and tactics that offer clear and successful communication. However, while a crisis is inherently a reactive situation and thus often filled with uncertainties and unknowns, proper planning can provide a more proactive response that leads to the successful handling of the crisis. Newsom, Turk and Kruckenberg (2010, p. 341) state the following outcomes as necessary for successful handling of a crisis: 1) early detection, 2) incident containment, 3) business resumption, 4) lessons learned and policies updated, 5) improved reputation as a result of appropriate response, 6) stakeholders resources readily available, and 7) timely decisions made on the basis of fact. To reach these outcomes, the PR department must take specific actions prior to and during a crisis. Most people’s idea of a crisis is an event that is sudden and unexpected. While this is possible, it is more likely that a crisis can be at least partially expected, and thus partially prepared for. Newsom, Turk and Kruckenberg (2010, p. 318) state that “The key to good crisis management is anticipation.” For this reason, it is important for PR departments to research and develop possible scenarios that might create crises, and possible responses to these crises. PR should image the worst, consider who might want to harm the organization, and consider possible crises from the six types of crises typology: acts of nature, intentional, or unintentional – each either of violent or non-violent nature (Newsom et al., 2010, p. 319). The PR department should stay aware of these potential causes of crises, working to prevent any of them from reaching an emergency state. The PR department should keep top management appropriately informed about potential crises so that they are not blind-sided by a crisis – though balance is important as you do not want to burden management with constant worst-case scenarios either. Additionally, the PR department should research how the organization handled crises in the past and how/why they were successful or not. They should also be aware of the communication environment of the organization and top executives. The next stage of successful crisis management is preparing information and procedures prior to a crisis. It is important to prepare organizational and crisis planning information in advance and keep it updated and accessible in the case of an emergency. An up-to-date company fact sheet with background information should be prepared. A list must be created that contains internal and external people to be immediately contacted (Hendrix & Hayes, 2010, p. 367). The PR department should consider creating dark sites that can be immediately made accessible only in case of an emergency. Dark sites could include a site hosted on a company’s intranet that includes company information and crisis planning and procedures. Dark sites could also be hosted on the internet so that the company’s must public communication, their website, can immediately have information available regarding an emergency. Communication procedures and channels, including back-up channels, should be known by the PR team. Additionally, the PR department should review these procedures at regular intervals as a means to prepare, review, and consider potential crises (Newsom et al., 2010, pp. 322-324). When an actual crisis occurs, if the PR department is prepared as stated above, the following actions will follow more smoothly and quickly, creating more successful crisis management. Two major areas of responsibility are establishing a public relations headquarters (PR HQ) and if needed, a media information center (MIC). From these centers the PR team can focus on programming to meet...
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