Crisis Communication Strategies
The use of remediation was evidenced by the company's willingness to settle the class-action lawsuit and quickly compensate the injured parties with a sum of $54 million.
also demonstrated repentance when its leaders directly apologized to Denny's
customers and pledged not to tolerate discrimination in the future.
company moved to rectify any further problems with discrimination by diversifying
its contracting and franchising practices and training employees on non
transcendence when, in President Reagan's state of the union address,
immediately following the crash, he tells the country that the members
of the Challenger crew were pioneers.
strategy was also used through rectification. NASA made sweeping changes
in the organization based on recommendations from the Report of the Presidential
Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident.
Jack in the
Box also used attachment strategies when they bolstered about the measures
they'd taken to ensure all their main items are being prepared in accordance
with Washington State Department of Health standards.
They also used rectification by producing tamper-proof bottles and an inspection system to help ensure that a similar crisis would not happen again.
sympathy strategy, Tylenol portrayed themselves as the unfair victim of
a malicious outside entity deflecting responsibility of the crisis from
the organization to the perpetrators of the crime.
All five case
studies displayed commonly successful strategies. By using forgiveness
strategies (Coombs, 1995), which consist of remediation, repentance, and
rectification, all five companies ultimately resurrected their corporate
images in the long term. In addition, in three of the five case studies,
they had the means to acquire, verify and release information in a timely
manner to frame the crisis which reflected positively on the organization.
is broken into three components, remediation, repentance, and rectification.
remediation, giving compensation to the victims of a crisis, was used
in three of the five case studies. With the exception of the Union Carbide
case, two of the three cases, Tylenol, and Denney's, used remediation
effectively. Remediation seeks to gain public support by showing how the
organization takes care of the innocent victims of a crisis. Negative
feelings in both the Tylenol and Denney's case were lessened as the organizations
took positive steps to help the victims of their crises.
DoD will normally
use remediation only if a court of law mandates compensation to victims
of a crisis. Many of the case studies, Union Carbide in particular, showed
a conflict between the organization's legal priorities and the need to
rapidly disseminate information on the part of the public information
team. The case studies that used remediation positively are an example
of how military commanders should strike a balance between the court of
law and the court of public opinion. Too often military units under a
crisis situation loose the opportunity to frame a crisis in their favor,
due to legal wrangling over what can or can not be said or done.
is not the only issue in the military's ability to rapidly frame a crisis.
The potential slowness in our staff process caused by staff requirements
to review and approve a crisis response strategy like remediation, are
not in line with the rapidity of the electronic news cycle. In the Tylenol
case Johnson & Johnson was able to respond, and frame the crisis within
24 hours of the product tampering deaths. This would be exceedingly difficult
for any military unit to do given a crisis of equal magnitude to the Tylenol
is a component of forgiveness strategy that simply asks for forgiveness.
Repentance was used very effectively used by Denney's and Jack-in-the
Box. This strategy is effective in particular when the organization is
at fault. The military will rarely use repentance due to fear of it being
used to establish legal culpability. In fact it is DOD policy to train
public affairs practitioners to never say they are sorry.
involves taking actions to prevent a recurrence of a crisis in the future.
Tylenol, Denny's, Jack-in-the- Box, and the Challenger all used rectification
effectively. The military also uses this rectification strategy very well.
It is required by most units to produce an after-action review of a crisis
to find out exactly what happened and to determine methods to prevent
it from happening again.
Sympathy strategy wins support from the public by portraying the organization as an unfair victim of some malicious, outside entity. Johnson & Johnson used sympathy strategy superbly. The organization was able to frame the crisis in a way that showed Johnson & Johnson as a company wounded by malicious product tampering. The military does not use sympathy strategy. The first reaction by military leadership, even in cases where fault is clearly on an outside agent, is to find a "fall guy."
Military leadership operates under the prevision that the commander is responsible for everything that goes right or wrong in his/her unit. The USS Cole is an example of the military focusing on what mistakes the commander may have made in his security requirements, and not the terrorists that committed the act.
Tower attack is another example of the military focusing on the commander's
faults in force protection, and not those responsible for the attack.
When the military focuses internally when struck by a terrorist they frame
the issue for the media. The message is the terrorist are ancillary participants
in the attack and the units failure to act in some way was the reason
for the attack.
The five case studies analyzed demonstrate a broad spectrum of possible crisis communication response strategies. They each contain valuable lessons which, if studied by military PA professionals may improve DoD's ability to respond to a crisis articulately and effectively.
|DoD Joint Course in Communication, Class 02-C, Team 1|