Welcome to PRSM107: Crisis Communication

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Saylor Student Handbook.


Course Description

This course is designed for practical applications of crisis communication principles, which can be used to protect and defend a company or organization facing a problem or challenge that threatens to harm its brand or reputation.


Course Introduction

This course is designed for practical applications of crisis communication principles. This course will explain what communication problems look like, the different phases of crises, how to deal with them, and how to anticipate crises as part of conducting effective public relations program. It will also explain the role of a crisis communication team and teach you how to write a crisis communication plan. Most importantly, it will emphasize the value and importance of using social media in a crisis communication plan and in marketing. Through case studies, you will examine best practices that have worked for others. A diverse selection of resource materials will help guide and supplement your understanding for practical application. This course will cover certain crisis cases, including BP's oil rig explosion, a Wendy's customer's false claims, and a UPS employee strike. After completing this course, you may also be interested in conducting your own research to find examples of other crisis cases, such as: Carnival's Costa Concordia cruise ship, Lance Armstrong and the Livestrong Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Penn State, or Toyota's 2010 recalls. These cases will give you an appreciation and understanding of the necessity to have a well-thought out crisis communication management system. The overall goal of the course is to help develop your skills and abilities as part of a crisis management team to help an organization or company develop a credible and tested communication plan to effectively respond to a crisis.

This course is comprised of the following units:

  • Unit 1: Crisis Communication Introduction
  • Unit 2: Preparing for a Crisis
  • Unit 3: Using Social Media During a Crisis
  • Unit 4: Designing a Crisis Communication Plan (CCP)
  • Unit 5: Developing Strategic Messages 

Course Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to: 

  • explain what crisis communication involves;
  • describe and identify different types of crisis;
  • describe the crisis management stages;
  • explain what crisis communication problems look like;
  • identify four types of crisis responses;
  • explain how to anticipate and make advanced preparations for a crisis;
  • describe the role of a crisis management team (CMT);
  • explain how to use social media to deal with a crisis;
  • explain the role of crisis communication when crafting strategic messages to a target audience;
  • describe the risks of using social media;
  • explain why social media is useful during a crisis, and describe how to use social media during a crisis;
  • describe the function of a crisis communication plan (CCP);
  • explain how to design and prepare a CCP;
  • explain how to test a CCP;
  • explain how to practice writing key messages that tell your company story;
  • explain how to incorporate key messages in online and traditional media tools;
  • describe how to help management communicate truthful messages; and
  • describe how to communicate to various stakeholder groups.
Throughout this course, you'll also see related learning outcomes identified in each unit. You can use the learning outcomes to help organize your learning and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are readings, lectures, video tutorials, and other resources.

All course materials are free to access, and can be found through the links provided in each unit and subunit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will instruct you as to what specifically to read or watch at a given point in the course, and help you to understand how these individual materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also access a list all of the materials used in this course by clicking on Resources in the course's "Activities" menu.


Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first attempt, you may take it again as many times as needed, following a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Saylor Certificate of Completion.

There are also 5 unit assessments and other types of quizzes in this course. These are intended to help you to gauge how well you are learning and do not factor into your final course grade. You may retake all of these as many times as needed to feel that you have an understanding of the concepts and material covered. You can locate a full list of these sorts of assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's "Activities" menu.


Tips for Success

PRSM107: Crisis Communication is a self-paced course in which you the learner determines when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or predetermined schedule to follow. While learning styles can vary considerably and any particular student will take more or less time to learn or read, we estimate that the "average" student will take 18 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular (daily, or at least weekly) progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so below we've compiled a few suggested study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories as you read. This can help you differentiate and contextualize concepts and later provide you with a refresher as you study.
  • As you progress through the materials, take time to test yourself on what you have retained and how well you understand the concepts. The process of reflection is important for creating a memory of the materials you learn; it will increase the probability that you ultimately retain the information.
  • Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor Academy students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at https://discourse.saylor.org.


Suggested Prerequisites
In order to take this course you should:
  • have knowledge about the basics of public relations and feel comfortable in writing and producing public relations pieces for traditional news media and social media.

Technical Requirements

This course is delivered fully online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one, free of charge, here. Although you can access some course resources without being logged into your account, it's advised that you log in to maximize your course experience. For example, some of the accessibility and progress tracking features are only available when you are logged in.

For additional guidance check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.



There is no cost to access and enroll in this course. All required course resources linked throughout the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, activities, etc are accessible for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

Last modified: Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 10:38 AM