BUS210 Study Guide

Unit 6: Negative News and Crisis Communication

6a. Describe the elements and goals of a negative news message

  • Identify and define the seven goals of a negative news message
  • Define the four main parts of a negative news message

While not desirable, negative news messages must be communicated from time to time. Negative news is something that an audience does not want to hear or receive. However, in an emergency or when bad news must be delivered, the news must be shared as effectively and clearly as possible. Being prepared is essential and can make a great deal of difference in how the news is received.

Negative news can include a crisis or health emergency, a job performance review or layoff, or other negative messages. Being prepared is essential and can make a great deal of difference in how the news is received. This delivery can help to maintain established relationships with employees, the public, and other stakeholders.

When preparing a negative news message, it is important to keep in mind these goals for both verbal and written communications:

  • Be clear, concise, and thorough in the information shared
  • Enable the receiver to understand and accept the news
  • Maintain respect for all parties involved
  • Be sure that all information is accurate and free of the potential for legal liability
  • Take steps to maintain the relationship
  • Seek to reduce any anxiety that might result from the news
  • Ensure that business outcomes are achieved

It has become more common for negative news messages to be delivered both verbally and in writing. Whatever form is used, a negative news message should include these elements:

  • The buffer – sets the tone for the message to come
  • The explanation – describes the reason for the issue
  • The negative news – the information being communicated
  • The redirect – the solution or actions to be taken

For more details, read Negative News and Crisis Communication.


6b. Compare sample negative news messages to determine what makes one more effective than the other

  • What strategies can you use to ensure that your message lowers the risk of litigation?
  • What are the pros and cons of delivering negative news in both verbal and written formats?

When delivering a negative news message, did you consider how the news could be received? Think about how effective your message was in clearly communicating the information. If you had been on the receiving end of the message, would you have felt that the deliverer took into account the ways you could receive and process the information? Consider these factors the next time you are involved in negative news, either from the perspective of the sender and the receiver.

To ensure that you reduce the risk of litigation, it is important to avoid profanity, sarcasm, or abusive language. This could negatively affect your organization and the image of the company. Be professional at all times and ensure that you treat the receivers of your messages with respect.

There are pros and cons to delivering negative news in person vs. in writing. Personal delivery of negative news allows for emotional responses, which can be a benefit or make the situation worse. A phone call can facilitate quick feedback and responses and enable both parties to discuss the situation. However, facial expressions and body language aren't visible and can result in a misinterpretation of some aspects of the message.

A written message can be prepared in advance, ensuring that the wording is clear, concise, and free of errors or confusion. However, this can be impersonal and may be subject to interpretation.

When evaluating the delivery of a negative news message, the medium, the audience, and the words being used should all be carefully considered to ensure that the communication is as effective as possible.

For a review, read Negative News and Crisis Communication.


6c. Compare direct and indirect delivery methods for negative news

  • Identify situations in which a direct approach is appropriate
  • Identify situations in which an indirect approach is appropriate

Consider the kinds of negative messages you have either received or delivered. Were the messages to the point, or was there some chance that the information might not have been communicated as intended or received well? Some people prefer their bad news to be direct and concise. Others may prefer a less direct approach.

Whether you determine that a direct or indirect approach is warranted, your job is to deliver news that you anticipate will be unwelcome, unwanted, and possibly dismissed. Any effective message will state the information in a way that limits the potential for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.

For a review, read Negative News and Crisis Communication.


6d. Understand how open- and closed-ended questions are applied to elicit certain kinds of feedback

  • Describe the nature of an open-ended question
  • Explain the value of an open-ended question
  • Describe the nature of a closed-ended question
  • List different types of closed-ended questions

Open-ended questions allow for the respondent to share their thoughts and comments in their own words. There are no parameters or restrictions on what the survey participant can include. Using this type of question enables the researcher to gather qualitative information, which provides a more personal and in-depth response.

Closed-ended questions can include a yes/no response, multiple-choice options, scales, ratings, and numerical answers. These questions limit answer choices and offer quantitative results, which the researcher can tabulate for a calculated analysis.

Using both open-ended and closed-ended questions, a researcher can obtain qualitative and quantitative data, which can be valuable when making business decisions.

For more details, read Eliciting Negative News.


6e. Recognize the components of a crisis communication plan contained within a given scenario

  • Identify the roles of communication crisis team members
  • Discuss the four elements of a crisis communication plan

A crisis communication team should include members who have contact information for each other. The team's plan should include a spokesperson who will be comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people and sharing important information about the crisis. The team is responsible for determining the actions to be taken during a crisis, carrying out those actions, and offering expertise and guidance where needed.

The team should ensure that there are identified meeting places to avoid confusion and to ensure safety for all involved. Finally, the team's spokesperson will be responsible for gathering the information to be shared with the public and the media and determining which information will be shared and in what time frame.

To review, read Crisis Communication Plan.


6f. Explain the purpose of a press conference and how to prepare for and conduct one

  • Identify the elements discussed in a press conference
  • Describe the format of a press conference and the roles of the participants

A press conference can be held to communicate both positive and negative announcements. For example, a company may open a new plant in a global market or close down several locations.

A press conference may include a greeter who will welcome the audience and introduce the speaker. The speaker is responsible for communicating the information in a calm, objective, and professional manner. The speaker should have a prepared message that has likely been written by a media person or someone from a public relations department. Additionally, a press conference may also include a moderator who can field questions from the audience and ensure that the event stays on target and on time.

A press conference should answer the basic questions of who, what, where, when, how, and why. The speaker should answer questions honestly and avoid responses that can be perceived as hiding something.

For review, read Press Conferences.


Unit 6 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you with the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • Negative news
  • Buffer
  • Explanation
  • Redirect
  • Litigation
  • Direct approach
  • Indirect approach
  • Open-ended questions
  • Closed-ended questions
  • Qualitative data
  • Quantitative data
  • Crisis communication
  • Media
  • Press conference
  • Greeter
  • Speaker
  • Moderator