The survey results show a general feeling of usefulness for a majority of the 12 strategies of Hunter, et al. (2000).  Analysis of the data indicates that the message, responsiveness, openness and release coordination strategies were most efficacious.  While the legal implications: cultural strategy appears to have the least utility.  An overview of the rankings by category along with comments on possible limitations, directions for future research, and answers to the research questions that were answered with quantitative data follows.

Frequency of Use

     Figure 1 displays the strategies in rank order from most frequently used to least frequently used.  This chart answers research question one: Have public affairs practitioners used this strategy in a crisis communication situation? 

Strategies Ranked by Frequency of Reported Use
Strategy # Reporting Use Percentage of Respondents
Agenda Setting
34 64.4
Cultural 27 55.1
Firefighter 28 57.1
Legal Implications: Cultural 15 30.6
Legal Limitations 36 73.5
Message 45 91.8
Openness 37 75.5
Public Think 36 73.5
Release Coordination 45 91.8
Relevance 30 61.2
Responsiveness 44 89.8
Single Spokesperson 36 73.4

Perceived Effectiveness

     Figure 2 displays the strategies in rank order from greatest perceived effectiveness to least.  This data may be specious, as it appears that nine respondents improperly completed the survey by reversing the Likert-scale and rating a strategy they had used and would use in the future as “highly ineffective.”  Due to the small sample size, these potentially erroneous responses were retained in the sample.  More research is needed to answer research question two thoroughly. 

Strategies Ranked by Perceived Effectiveness
Strategy Mean Standard Deviation
Agenda Setting 3.26 1.31
Cultural 3.38 1.65
Firefighter 3.48 1.53
Legal Implications: Cultural 3.29 1.38
Legal Limitations  2.95  1.55
Message 3.53 1.55
Openness 3.81 1.54
Public Think 3.44 1.73
Release Coordination 3.35 1.69
Relevance 2.80 1.37
Responsiveness 3.75 1.65
Single Spokesperson 3.38 1.55


    This study does not effectively answer research question three: which tactics have military public affairs practitioners used in support of particular strategies?  Where respondents provided tactics, they are included in the appropriate appendix for that strategy.  However, many of the comments provided were not discrete public affairs tactics but general commentary on the strategy.  Further research could potentially pursue this question with an eye to developing an absolute list of tactics for practitioners to employ once they have chosen a crisis communication strategy.

Future Use

     Figure 3 displays the strategies in rank order from greatest to least in terms of the number of respondents who stated they would use it for a future crisis communication situation. No strategy received less than 60 percent favorable response indicating willingness on the part of military public affairs practitioners to employ proactive crisis communication strategies. 

Future Use Matrix  
Strategy # who would use percentage
Message 47 95.9
Release Coordination 45 91.8
Responsiveness 45 91.8
Cultural 44 89.8
Openness 43 87.8
Public Think 43 87.8
Relevance 40 81.6
Firefighter 39 79.6
Legal Limitations 36 73.5
Agenda Setting 36 73.4
Single Spokesperson 33 67.3
Legal Implications: Cultural 30 61.2

Efficacy of Strategies

    Figure 4 displays the strategies in rank order from most to least efficacious.  Due to the potential error, induced by respondent’s errors in taking the survey, these rankings are probably less reflective of reality than desired.  However, the rankings are borne out by the qualitative comments provided by respondents with respect to the individual strategies and the entire crisis communication process.  Further research may zero in on this important target more closely to the benefit of military public affairs practitioners. 

Strategy Efficacy Matrix  
Strategy Used Effectiveness Future Overall
Message 10.5 10 12 32.5
Responsiveness 10.5 11 10.5 32
Openness 9 12 7.5 28.5
Release Coordination 12 5 10.5 27.5
Public Think 7.5 8 7.5 23
Cultural 2 6.5 9 17.5
Firefighter 3 9 5 17
Single Spokesperson 6 6.5 2 14.5
Legal Limitations 7.5 2 4 13.5
Agenda Setting 5 3 3 11
Relevance 4 1 6 11
Legal Implications: Cultural 1 4 1 6

     This study validates the efficacy of the Hunter, et al. (2000) typology for military crisis
communication.  Military public affairs practitioners best practice is congruent with the
typology and it may well serve as an engine to drive them towards strategic thinking about – and
perhaps more importantly planning for - crisis communications.  In their own words: “Handling crises and the media is, I believe, always the most important job a PAO has, and sometimes the hardest thing to accomplish effectively. There's always room for improvement and surveys like this may help to improve our responses. “ (active Army NCO with 22 years experience) 
     More extensive research is required to determine if specific strategies are better suited for
certain types of crises and new theories will continue to evolve.  However, as one respondent
so eloquently put it,  “Everything" of anything is too absolute to be a thoughtful PA strategy.”
(active Army officer with 8 years experience).  In the absence of “the answer,” for conducting
crisis communication, the consummate military public affairs practitioner must continuously
seek new knowledge and better ways of communicating, there is too much at stake to allow for failure.