This section provides a brief discussion of how survey participants evaluated each crisis communication strategy. Detailed quantitative and qualitative responses for each strategy are included in Appendices E to P.
This strategy entails releasing all information
about an issue immediately. Seek internal and external opportunities
to tell your side of the story (Hunter, et al., 2000). Openness is
a frequently used strategy, with more than 75 percent of respondents saying
they have used it at least once (see Appendix
E). The 37 respondents who said they have used this strategy
rated it as moderately effective overall with a mean score of 3.81 and
standard deviation of 1.54. This statistic can be misleading, however,
since more than 55 percent of survey respondents rated this strategy as
extremely effective. Tactics used in support of this strategy include:
quick and open access to the media; tours of information and operations
centers; releasing all information about the incident that was not classified;
promising to update the press when new information is available; frequent
press conferences and news releases; and access to senior officials/subject
Agenda setting is putting everything on
the record, especially during the beginning phase of a crisis. Communicate
your values first, before worrying about what the media is asking (Hunter,
et al., 2000). This strategy is one of the most frequently used with
approximately 69 percent of respondents saying they have used it (see Appendix
F). The 34 respondents who have used this strategy rated it as
moderately effective overall with a mean score of 3.26 and standard deviation
Relevance is communicating the importance
of the issue that brought on the crisis while not allowing that action
to be questioned. More than 60 percent of respondents (30) reported
having used this strategy (see Appendix
G). The strategy was rated moderately effective overall with a mean
score of 2.80 and standard deviation of 1.37.
This strategy seeks internal legal counsel
immediately, however, all advice from council must come as fast as media
questions (Hunter, et al., 2000). Legal limitations is one of the
most frequently used with 73.5 percent of respondents saying they have
used it (see Appendix H). The
36 respondents who have used this strategy rated it as moderately effective
overall with a mean score of 2.95 and standard deviation of 1.54.
Legal Implications: Cultural
The legal implications: cultural strategy states that council addressing the crisis must understand legal implications in the host country and how the law will be enforced (Hunter, et al., 2000). The reported use for this strategy was the lowest, at only 30.6 percent (see Appendix I). The 15 people who reported using this strategy rated it as somewhat effective overall with a mean score of 3.29 and a standard deviation of 1.38. The low report of usage could be attributed to a lack of overseas respondents, since the strategy is applicable primarily in overseas locations. Although few reported using the strategy, 61 percent report potential use in the future. No respondents provided comments.
Hunter, et al. (2000) defines the release
coordination strategy as ensuring that everyone in the coordination process
is aware of the crisis issue and is not releasing conflicting information.
This strategy has been used by 91.8 percent of survey respondents, making
it the most used (see Appendix J).
Nearly half the users of this strategy rated the perceived effectiveness
as extremely effective although the mean score was 3.36 with a standard
deviation of 1.69.
Public think refers to what the public thinks
about the crisis. It is what the public (both internal and external) wants
to know from the public affairs professional about the crisis. This strategy
has been used by 73.5 percent of respondents (see Appendix
K). More than 45 percent of those who have used public think perceive
it as extremely effective; however, the mean score was 3.44 with a standard
deviation of 1.73.
The responsiveness strategy is acting quickly
and responding to any request for information or about issues affecting
the crisis. All but five respondents (89.8 percent) said they have
used this strategy (see Appendix L).
More than 55 percent of the practitioners who have used responsiveness
rate it as extremely effective. The mean score is 3.75 with a standard
deviation of 1.65. The responsiveness tactic respondents furnished most
often is that public affairs professionals should anticipate the needs
of the media and plan to meet them before they even know they have them.
This strategy requires ensuring the appropriate
message is addressed at all opportunities, especially during the initial
phase of the crisis. More than 90 percent of participants have used the
message strategy, giving it an overall effective rating (see Appendix
M). The mean score is 3.53 with a standard deviation of 1.55. Although
more than 38 percent rated it extremely effective, only one tactic was
mentioned: “Command messages should get worked into every document, not
in an obvious way, but as part of the substance of the message.” (active
Navy officer with 5 years experience)
Cultural strategy requires that public affairs practitioners be aware of cultural and ethnic sensitivities, and language (Hunter, et al., 2000). More than half of the respondents (27) reported having used this strategy (see Appendix N). Those that have used it rated it at both ends of the spectrum from extremely ineffective (23 percent) to extremely effective (39 percent), giving this strategy a mean score of 3.38 with a standard deviation of 1.65. Tactics employed with this strategy include: understanding the philosophy of external organizations; researching how media in different locations distribute information, and develop an awareness campaign in local languages. Almost 90 percent of the respondents reported they would use this strategy. Comments noted that: “The cultural strategy is essential to communication overseas and public affairs practitioners must show empathy.” (active Air Force Officer 30 years experience)
Hunter et al., (2000) state that single spokesperson entails training and equipping a single source to answer all queries regarding the organization’s role in the crisis. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (36) have used this strategy, most of them, 40 percent rating it highly effective (see Appendix O). The mean score is 3.39 with a standard deviation of 1.55. The only tactic submitted suggests finding a subject matter expert, training them well, and using them consistently. Although 36 respondents have used this strategy, only 33 say they will use it in the future. The single comment received indicates that “Public affairs personnel should conduct media training with the spokesperson.” (active Navy NCO with 10 years experience)
The firefighter strategy refers to having
someone or a group of people who examine issues that can intensify the
situation during a crisis. Only 57.1 percent of respondents have used this
strategy (see Appendix P). The overall
rating is somewhat effective, with a mean score of 3.48 and a standard
deviation of 1.53. No tactics were submitted for this strategy. Almost
80 percent or participants stated they would use this strategy in the future.
The single comment recognizes applicability for crisis management planning.