The paper Coombs’ s Situational Crisis' is a great example of a Management Case Study. Crisis communication is defined as the dialogue between an organization and its publics before, during, and after a negative occurrence concerning the organization (Fearn-Banks, 2002). It involves making strategic decisions which are characterized by their magnitude being big, the time scale in that they set the direction that the organization will take after the crisis and they also require commitment because they involve making choices and using resources that cannot be easily reversed (Haberberg & Rieple, 2001).
Poor crisis communication tarnishes the organization’ s public relations and people may eventually lose trust in the organization. It is however important for organizations to have crisis communication plans since they do not know when a crisis will happen. The key elements of a crisis communication plan include the crisis communication team, a response action plan, the key messages which should be communicated during a crisis and the communication channels to be used (Coombs, 1998). News Corporation's phone-hacking scandal is an example of failure in crisis communication that almost led to the closure of the organization.
The organization was involved in illegal hacking of a phone that involved a murdered child. The corporation however came out and apologized for the scandal but the actions of the public relations team that followed did everything else in the wrong way. Timothy Coombs however came up with the Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) which gives a framework for organizations to apply crisis communication theories when dealing with a crisis. The framework is founded on attribution theory which asserts that people often look for causes of various events especially of the events that were unexpected (Coombs & Holladay, 2004).
Basically, they try to place the responsibility for that crisis somewhere else. Coombs’ framework, therefore, gives some guidelines on how to manage a crisis in the organization. In this paper, I will be comparing how New Corporations managed their crisis with the guidelines in the Coombs’ framework. Coombs’ s Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) According to Coombs (1995), there are three crisis communication phases in the crisis communication strategies identified in the management of a crisis plan. The first phase is the pre-crisis where the organization’ s management should be involved in the prevention of a crisis and preparation in case one happens.
Prevention involves taking measures to reduce the risks of a crisis happening. Preparation on the other hand involves coming up with the crisis management plan, choosing and training the members of the crisis management team, and testing the crisis management plan and the team members. The second phase is during the crisis response phase where the management responds to a crisis that has happened. At this stage, the public relations team has the most critical role to play in designing the message that will be sent to the various publics.
During the initial response, the public relations team must be quick, accurate, and consistent. This is then followed by strategies for repairing damage which has been inflicted by the crisis on the reputation of the organization. These strategies include attacking the accuser, denying that there is a crisis, excuses, justification, compensation, and apology among others (Coombs, 2007d). The last phase is the post-crisis stage where the organization’ s management looks for ways to improve their preparation for the next crisis and fulfill some of the commitments made while managing the crisis.
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