Communication And Crisis
Communication is an essential component of effective crisis management. This is especially the case in a situation where the basic needs, health, and lives of thousands or even millions are at stake. In a situation where the water supply is at risk, for example, it is essential to establish a communication plan as soon as the risk becomes known. In this way any preventable cases of illness or death can be mitigated. When the risk of water supply contamination by a biological agent becomes known, for example, the main requirement is to communicate this to as large a proportion of the ...view middle of the document...
They should be notified of the crisis situation. Their task will then be to serve as initial communication agent to the public via the press. Receiving information about a biological contaminant in the water supply of several towns is not news that is likely to remain secret for long. Since the agency is in charge of ensuring the safety and security of the public, it is likely that the first communication with the public will be via phone and email inquiries from the press. The Public Relations Department should then work closely with the crisis communication team to determine the nature of information to be divulged to the press. Such inquiries should be handled with an utmost degree of reassurance, calm, and honesty. Answering media calls promptly is also essential. The Public Relations department staff should also, as soon as possible, receive a prepared statement from the communications team, with information such as the time and location of a press conference to offer information and respond to questions. I should be ensure that competent, well-informed people are handling media and public inquiries.
After inter-departmental communications have been established and media communications are in place, the appropriate positioning or message for the public needs to be taken into account. This is another major task for the crisis communication team. Since a major health risk is the concern with biological water contaminants, the first message to the public should be instructions regarding optimal water safety, along with the main cause of the concern. Hence, the statement should include three components; first, that the public water supply should be at risk; second, that all in the agency’s power is being done to address the situation speedily, and third, that there is no need for panic and a contingency plan is in place.
People who communicate with the public via the press need to appear calm and confident, especially in front of television cameras and reporters who shout questions in an emotionally charged environment. The nature of the communication shoudl also take into account several major factors. One of these is the way in which the public perceives messages when members perceive a crisis and are at risk of experiencing panic.
Covello (n.d.), for example, notes that those who feel stressed by a threat factor such as
contaminated water supplies typically have difficulty hearing, understanding, and remembering information. An important component of his is that members...