Crisis communication can be defined broadly as the collection, processing, and dissemination of information required to address a crisis situation.
It is the “dialog between the organization and its public(s) prior to, during, and after the negative occurrence. The dialog details strategies and tactics designed to minimize damage to the image of the organization.”
Crisis communication is an emerging field in applied communication studies and involves dealing with mediated messages and various types of audiences at moments of heightened pressure. Ethical questions are important considerations when a crisis occurs. In a crisis situation, corporate values that are important during times of normalcy and stability may not be as critical. For instance, the normal emphasis on cost saving would no longer be appropriate when it is necessary to take urgent steps to save lives in a natural disaster.
Organizations have ethical responsibilities before, during and after a crisis. In the pre-crisis stage, crisis communication revolves around monitoring crisis risks, making decisions about how to manage potential crises, and training people who will be involved in the crisis management process. Crisis communication includes the collection and processing of information for crisis team decision making along with the creation and dissemination of crisis messages. The emergency nature of a crisis amid great uncertainty aggravates already difficult decision-making with the urgent need for the management to make decisions rapidly. Post-crisis communication involves assessing the crisis management effort and providing follow-up crisis messages as needed. The organization needs to release updates on the recovery process, corrective actions, and/or investigations of the crisis.Next Page: Ethical Principles of Responsibility and Accountability