Problems of Misinformation
There are also several forms of communication that could diminish the opportunity for significant choice, according to Nilsen. If an organization provides unclear or biased information to stakeholders, it can corrupt the decision-making process. Some forms of communication such as bias, ambiguity and emotionalized language could distort meaning or create unnecessary alarm among the public. The following is considered to be miscommunication that can lead to problematic consequences:
- incomplete information
- biased information
- statistical units that may be inadequately defined or incomplete
- vague or ambiguous terminology in which listeners find erroneous meanings
- relationships that may be implied between the issue under discussion and other issues, when in fact no relationship exists
- false sense of urgency or false sense of importance
- highly emotionalized language which may distort meaning
In times of crisis, disclosure of timely, relevant, and complete information is particularly important when lack of information can be particularly harmful. In many cases, crisis communicators must perform the dual role of organizational spokesperson and counselor. In both instances, stakeholders’ informational needs and interests must be considered.
“No comment” should not be an option for ethical crisis communication.
Public relations professionals need to take responsible communication actions built on principles of openness and transparency.Next Page: Challenge of Information Uncertainty in Crises