Unit 6: Negative News and Crisis Communication
Clear and concise communication takes on increased importance in times of crisis. This unit will cover effective ways to deliver negative messages, including the standard process of presenting a buffer or cushion statement, an explanation, the negative news itself, and then a redirecting statement, and you will appreciate how eliciting negative news through feedback is an important way to avoid problems. Every organization should have a crisis communication plan, and this unit will teach you the elements of a crisis plan and how to manage press conferences.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- define the elements and goals of a negative news message;
- compare sample negative news messages to determine what makes one more effective than the other;
- compare direct and indirect delivery methods for negative news;
- describe how open- and closed-ended questions are applied to elicit certain kinds of feedback;
- create a crisis communication plan contained within a given scenario; and
- create a detailed plan for conducting a press conference.
6.1: Creating Effective Negative News Messages
These sections examine the impact of having to distribute negative news, and introduces seven important objectives that negative news messages should accomplish. After you read, try the exercises at the end of the section.
This tutorial provides real examples of words to use to effectively deliver negatived news without jeopardizing a relationship. As you watch and listen to the eight examples, think about what makes the messaging of each scenario effective?
This video reminds us to set expectations when delivering bad news, be direct, sympathize, and reframe the situation. Think of a time when you received bad news. Did you feel that the person delivering the news displayed empathy? Did you feel supported?
6.2: Obtaining Feedback
Read this section, which explains the necessity and value of feedback, how to encourage employees and members of the public to participate in providing feedback, and how to use open and closed-ended questions to elicit feedback. After you read, try the exercises at the end of the section.
6.3: Crisis Communication
This video focuses on the importance of leading and communicating during periods of change and details Kotter's 8-step model. Think about times that you have experienced change and how it was communicated to you. Of that communication, what was effective? What was ineffective?
Watch this video, which explains the psychology of a crisis, why it is important for organizations to understand it, and transformative actions that can turn a crisis into opportunity. As he is speaking, think about specific communications that helped you process the COVID-19 pandemic. What communications eased your anxiety? What communications increased your anxiety?
Read this section, which covers how to prepare a crisis plan, including designating a crisis communication team and a spokesperson. After you read, try the exercises at the end of the section.
This video will help you prepare a crisis communication plan. For more information, review PRSM107: Crisis Communication. That course will let you create your own crisis communication plan. Check it out!
Watch this video about the fundamentals of risk communication produced by the American Red Cross's disaster response emergency communications manager. He discusses how the public has the ability to respond through social media, no matter what type of media you are using to communicate. This kind of feedback connects crisis communication to negative news issues you encountered in the previous subunit. Remember that crisis communication introduces special requirements and limitations for a business communicator, which this video also discusses.
This video discusses the importance of leading and communicating during periods of crisis. We have all now experienced the crisis of a global pandemic. What leading and communicating approaches did you find helpful during the pandemic? What leading and communicating approaches did you find detrimental during the pandemic?
Review this fascinating video, which provides results from two randomized experiments during the COVID-19 pandemic to demonstrate how to effectively communicate in a crisis. The researchers noted the most important component of communication was for people to feel safe. Do you agree with their conclusion? Take a moment to think of what communication you longed for during the pandemic.
6.4: Press Conferences
Read this section. A press conference is a controlled opportunity to communicate with the public through the media. A professional representative of the company who is fully prepared should be the spokesperson. These events require calm and the ability to anticipate questions and prepare responses in advance. After you read, try the exercises at the end of the section.
Read this page about how to prepare for and conduct a press conference. It includes information about meeting audience and media needs, setting up the room, and post-conference follow-up.
Unit 6 Assessment
- Receive a grade
Take this assessment to see how well you understood this unit.
- This assessment does not count towards your grade. It is just for practice!
- You will see the correct answers when you submit your answers. Use this to help you study for the final exam!
- You can take this assessment as many times as you want, whenever you want.