Topic Name Description
Course Introduction Page Course Syllabus


Page Course Terms of Use
1.1: What Is Crisis Communication? Page Rick Kelly's "What Is Crisis Communications?"

Watch this brief video on how crisis communication is viewed from a business perspective. In this video, Rick Kelly, Director of Crisis Communications at Triad Strategies, defines crisis communication and discusses the importance of developing a crisis communications plan.

URL The Community Tool Box: Phil Rabinowitz's "Handling Crises in Communication"

Read this article for an overview and definition of crisis communication and crisis communication management. This reading also addresses reasons why crisis communication is important. Note that it is not necessary to read the other chapters referenced and linked in this reading.

1.2: Types of Crises URL Wikipedia: "Crisis Management"

Read the "Types of Crises" section of this article, stopping at "Crisis Leadership." This section will help you understand the various types of crises that can occur and that should be considered and customized for various organizational crisis management planning.

1.3: Crisis Management Stages Page Mitchell Friedman and Rebecca Anderson's "The Role of Public Relations in Crisis Management"

Watch this video presentation for a better understanding of crisis communication as a business or organization problem. In particular, note the stages of crisis communication.

1.4: Four Types of Crisis Response URL The University of Texas at Austin: Jeremy Simon's "Apologize, Deny, Justify, or Excuse: How Crisis Response Affects Perceptions of Company, CEO Differently"

Read this article to learn how the four types of corporate crisis responses affect the perception of the company and the CEO differently.

1.5: The Evolution of Using Social Media in Disaster Response URL Diana Ennen's "Social Networking Changes Everything"

Read this article to learn about how social networks have changed everything in public relations. The readings in this subunit will help prepare you for the material in Unit 3.

URL Zoe Fox's "Red Cross Launches Social Media Disaster Response Center"

Read this article and watch the embedded video to learn about social media's growing application for disaster response.

URL Colorado Nonprofit Association: "Introduction to Social Media Strategy"

Read this document for an introduction to social media strategy that has application to both non-profit and other organizations.

2.1: How to Prepare for a Crisis: Crisis Communication Plan URL Exploring Business: "Chapter 6, Section 2: Planning"

Read this section to learn the steps for crisis planning. Be sure to take notes as you read. Pay special attention to real world crisis events, including Wendy's handling of a woman's claim of finding a fingertip in her bowl of chili. Another example discussed in this reading is BP's oil rig explosion in the Gulf Coast and how CEO Tony Hayward responded.

Complete exercise 2 (AACSB) Analysis. This exercise requires you to role play as the CEO of a large company and to write the core values you would want the employees of your company to demonstrate. Post your response to the exercise to the PRSM107 Course Discussion Forum as well as review and respond to one or two other students' posts.

Page Crisis Communication Plan

Watch this video to learn the basics of a crisis communication plan approach for business and organizations.

URL PRSM107 Discussion Forum

After you have studied the materials in this subunit, consider the following prompts. Post your written response for these prompts to the course discussion forum. Make sure to review and respond to at least one or two other students' posts.

  1. Using a company you are familiar with, develop a strategic plan as described in the Exploring Business text in this subunit. Use the bulleted list under the "Develop a Strategic Plan" section as a check list for the items you should include in your plan: a mission statement, core values, SWOT analysis, goals and objectives, and tactical and operational plans.
  2. Develop a strategic plan for a public relations consulting company. The company will have two full-time employees, a business manager and a PR director, and three consultants including an advertising specialist, a marketing specialist, and a social media specialist. Your target audience is small business start-ups at three local community colleges within a 75-mile radius of your location. You plan to offer one-stop integrating marketing for your clients.

2.2: What Is a Crisis Management Team (CMT)? URL Institute for Public Relations: Timothy Coombs' "Crisis Management Communications"

Read the first six sections of this article, stopping at "Pre-draft Messages," for an overview of crisis management teams.

2.3: Case Study: How Does FEMA's Think Tank Operate? URL Federal Emergency Management Agency: "What Is the FEMA Think Tank?"

Read this article to get a basic understanding of how the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses the think tank forum to enhance the overall effectiveness of its crisis response operations.

URL Federal Emergency Management Agency: "FEMA Think Tank Conference Call - February 2013"

Listen to this audio recording of part of FEMA's think tank conference call on February 6, 2013. Also, download the transcript of the full conference call, and skim the transcript for an overview of this session. This audio recording provides a sample of what goes on in this type of meeting. The topic focuses on innovations and solutions to emergency management.

2.4: Your Role in Crisis Management URL Institute for Public Relations: Timothy Coombs' "Crisis Management Communications"

Read the article, beginning at "Pre-draft Messages" through "Table 8 Post-Crises Best Practices" to get a better understanding of your role as a public relations specialist in helping your organization use best practices during a crisis and in crisis management. This reading is also an effective lead into the next subunit, "Dealing with News Media."

2.5: Dealing with News Media URL Business Communication for Success: "Chapter 17, Section 4: Press Conferences"

Read Section 4 of Chapter 17 to refresh your understanding of the importance of always adequately preparing for news media encounters regardless of the format and whether you are communicating during a crisis situation or non-crisis situation.

After reading about press conferences, complete the exercise at the end of the section. For this exercise, you will select one scenario based on your birth month. Then, you will write a prepared statement that responds to at least five questions related to who, what, when, where, how, and why regarding the scenario. Post your written response to the PRSM107 discussion forum as well as review and respond to one or two other students' posts.

URL PRSM107 Discussion Forum

After reviewing the course materials in this unit, consider the following questions. Post your written response to the PRSM107 Course Discussion Forum. Make sure to review and respond to at least one or two other students' posts.

  1. Describe a real-world situation that may lead to a crisis that needs to be managed. What is the situation? How did you anticipate this as leading to a crisis? What might you do to plan to resolve or evade the crisis?
  2. Consider your role in crisis management. What type of plans would you have in place to respond and handle news media inquiries? What key messages would you have prepared for your spokesperson? How would you distribute this information to your various audiences?

3.1: Why Social Media Is Useful During a Crisis URL Understanding Media and Culture: "Chapter 16, Section 4: Current Trends in Electronic Media"

Read Section 4 of Chapter 16 to understand how trends in social media affect the availability, use, and appeal of social media as effective communication during a crisis.

URL Dave Fleet's "Why You Should Tweet During a Crisis"

Read this article, which discusses the benefits of using social media, such as Twitter, during a crisis.

3.2: The Risks of Using Social Media URL Jayne Navarre's "Risky Business? Is a Social Media Policy Enough? Do Law Firms Need Social-Media-Insurance?"

Read this article, which provides insight into company losses that occur from social media mishaps and security breaches. This article should get you thinking about the inherent risks businesses assume when they incorporate social media into their day-to-day operations.

URL Federal Bureau of Investigation: "Internet Social Networking Risks"

Read this article to learn how to avoid social networking risk that could interrupt and compromise your Internet and social media channel services.

3.3: Social Media Marketing URL Amy Bermar and Corinne Federici's "Avoiding Social Media Suicide: Optimizing PR"

Watch this video to learn emerging best practices for reaching and engaging blogger, reporters, and other influencers to target your messages.

URL Exploring Business: "Chapter 9, Section 6: Interacting with Your Customers"

Read this section and complete exercise 2. This exercise highlights one of Procter & Gamble's most successful social media campaigns. It features former NFL wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa, who points out the power of wearing Old Spice aftershave. For your convenience, you may find the article with embedded videos for this exercise below.

URL Brenna Ehrlich's "The Old Spice Social Media Campaign by the Numbers"

Read this article and view the embedded videos as part of exercise 2.

3.4: Effective Use of Social Media URL U.S. Department of State: Stephen Kaufman's "Social Networking Experiment Shows Effects of Mass Mobilization"

Read this article to learn how a government agency used a contest to conduct a social networking experiment to show how quickly large groups can be mobilized in support of a cause.

Page Martin Anderson's "Social Media & Emergency Management"

Watch this video, which illustrates how a government agency in Australia has effectively integrated social media into emergency service procedures.

4.1: What Type of Information Does a CCP Contain? URL Colorado Nonprofit Association: "Crisis Communication Plan Nonprofit Toolkit"

Study this document to learn what a CCP is and to understand what a complete and detailed crisis communication plan might look like, depending on the nature of the organization or company.

4.2: How to Design a Crisis Communication Plan URL Business Communication for Success: "Chapter 17, Section 3 Crisis Communication Plan"

Read this section to learn about what type of information to include when developing a CCP. This reading includes a checklist for designing an effective crisis communication plan and reviews the characteristics of a crisis communication team. Answer the questions for exercises 2 and 5. Post your response to the PRSM107 Discussion Forum, and review as well as respond to one or two other students' posts.

Also respond to the following prompt on the forum:

Outline the media plan you would need if your technology business office headquarters that housed 1,500 employees was damaged during a natural disaster such as a hurricane. What considerations would you need to have planned and coordinated in advance to have an alternate media center or location for media to gather while covering the news of the hurricane disaster damage to your office headquarters?

URL Justin Levy's "Developing a Digital Communication Plan"

Study these slides on 11 steps to developing a digital communication plan. Compare and contrast these steps to the earlier more traditional print formatted crisis plan.

4.3: Testing a Crisis Communication Plan URL Sarah D. Scalet's "Tabletop Exercises: Three Sample Scenarios"

Read this article to learn how tabletop exercises are used to test crisis communication plans. This reading illustrates three scenarios:

  1. a disgruntled employee starts a data center fire
an explosion at a nearby chemical plant releases deadly toxins
  3. a pandemic flu hits.

5.1: Practice Writing Key Messages that Tell Your Company's Story URL Mastering Public Relations: "Chapter 1: The Importance of Public Relations: UPS Case"

Read Chapter 1 for a case study about how negotiations broke down and led to UPS employees going on strike. This reading will help you understand the importance of developing message strategies and how to develop them for crisis management.

URL Messages That Matter: "What Is a Message Strategy?"

Read this article on message strategy. This article will help you understand the importance of developing message strategies and how to develop them for crisis management or marketing. This article includes a position statement and three supporting points.

URL PRSM107 Discussion Forum

Practice writing three key messages about your favorite organization. Post your messages to the PRSM107 Discussion Forum, and review as well as respond to one or two other students' posts. As you respond to other students, consider which message is the most effective, and why.

Also consider the following prompts. Post your written response to these prompts on the PRSM107 discussion forum. Make sure to review and respond to at least one or two other students' posts.

  1. Write three marketing messages that address the safety and value of a new social media application that helps parents keep track of their children's departure to and from their homes aboard school buses. Include that the cost for the app is only $10 to download. Each app can be customized with an individual child's genetic coding.
  2. Next, write three key messages on how a technology company is providing smartphones equipped with the same social media applications to help locate lost or missing children during an earthquake disaster. The devices will emit a special beep when a human is discovered buried deep under rumble or within horizontal ranges from 20 feet to 1 mile. Include that there is no cost for the apps, the smartphones, or the operators who are using them to help locate the children. Everything is free and being donated by one nonprofit company named "Help on the Way."

5.2: Incorporate Key Messages Using Online and Traditional Media Tools URL NLC Communications Workshop: "Keys to Media Relations Success", "Television and Radio Interviews", and "New Media Tips"

Read these three articles to better understand your role with news media, what you can do to achieve an effective working relationship with the media, and tips for using traditional and new media.

5.3: Help Management to Communicate Truthful Messages URL Valerie Maltoni's "Crisis Communication in Social Media: Are You Ready?"

Read this article, which explains what happens during a crisis, how to plan for a crisis, and how to use the ICE method to guide the actions of management and the crisis response team.

URL Steven R. Van Hook's "Business and Marketing Ethics"

Read this article, which will provide you with guidelines for ensuring management is ready to handle a crisis and also outlines specific business ethics that should be followed to ensure truthful disclosures.

5.4: Communicate to Various Stakeholder Groups URL Mastering Public Relations: "Chapter 7: Identifying and Prioritizing Stakeholders and Publics"

Read Chapter 7, which defines and prioritizes stakeholders and publics.

Course Feedback Survey URL Course Feedback Survey