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Crisis Communication

W. Timothy Coombs

Subject Communication Studies » Strategic Communication and PR

Key-Topics conflict

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


The topic of crisis communication has attracted a great deal of attention from researchers in →  public relations , →  corporate communication , →  marketing , and management. The ever-growing body of research is both a blessing and a curse. There is a large amount of information, which is good. However, the insights are scattered throughout a myriad of books and journals, making it difficult for crisis managers to uncover. In addition, there are some serious shortcomings in the literature. Crisis communication is usually associated with how management responds to a crisis. The emphasis is on what the organization says and does in response to the crisis ( Benoit 1995 ; Coombs 1999 ; →  Organizational Communication ). The focus is on public statements and actions by management. The belief is that how an organization communicates during a crisis has important ramifications for how stakeholders will (1) perceive the organization in crisis, such as its reputation (→  Corporate Reputation ), and (2) interact with the organization in the future. However, there are important elements of crisis communication that transpire within the context of the crisis team. The crisis team must gather and process information in order to make decisions about how to respond to the crisis. Hence, crisis communication can be divided into two broad categories: public crisis communication and private crisis ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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