Management Communication Phone: 212 – 998 - 0093
Stern School of Business
212 – 995 - 4213
707 Tisch firstname.lastname@example.org
40 W. 4th Street
New York. NY 10012.
Professor Irv Schenkler
Classroom: KMC 5-85
Class Sessions: Wednesdays, March 28-May 2, 6:00 p.m-9:00 p.m.
This course examines the variables involved in crisis planning, communication and management. To do
so, we must consider the organization’s vulnerabilities, the environment in which it thrives, the
stakeholders who can influence its operation and the strategies best suited to maintaining or enhancing
its reputation. The media plays a crucial role in crisis management and we will discuss this factor
throughout the course. We will consider how the media acts as a catalyst as well as intermediary in this
process. Some of the questions that will arise will be: Is the relationship inherently antagonistic? Should it
By the conclusion of the course, participants should have developed a deeper understanding of the range
of crises facing organizations, an enhanced appreciation of communication tactics that can be brought to
bear in such situations and a greater familiarity with the historical antecedents of current crises.
Fearn-Banks, Kathleen. Crisis Communications, Erlbaum Associates, 2007. This book provides a
comprehensive review of the subject and includes thorough bibliographical references. Not all of it will be required for
the short course but its contents will be of assistance in researching the report paper.
Schenkler, Irv and Herrling, Tony. Guide to Media Relations, Prentice-Hall, 2004.
Supplementary material will be distributed during the course. Suggested supplementary readings for
reference follows on the final page of the course outline.
The course will be conducted in three modes: lecture, discussion, and team participation. In teams,
participants will analyze cases and present problem-solving strategies in class. Along with the text, video
material will be viewed and used as the basis for discussion and role-play.
Prefatory Reading and Assignment
READING; Crisis Communications, Chapter 1
PRE-WORK: DUE ON FIRST CLASS (Not Graded) “Crisis in Your Organization”
Think about the company you work for or in which you have once been employed. Describe a crisis that
has affected or could conceivably affect:
• its operations ,reputation or profitability
Break down the nature of the crisis according to how it would affect significant stakeholders. Provide
• the company and the industry in which it operates
Frame the potential crisis within a narrative structure. Try to keep the length to one page, single spaced.
Please submit two copies at the start of the course
50% Report Paper: An industry or particular company confronting crisis and media inquiry.
Write about a company or industry that has faced or currently faces a crisis (or that is grappling with
an issue which threatens to become a crisis.)
Include the following components: 1) analyze the underlying causation); 2) a stakeholder analysis; 3)
review what the organization did in response, and 4) evaluate its effectiveness and determine whether
other approaches might have been taken. You can use the company from the non-graded “Crisis in
Your Organization” deliverable. Presumably, you will have enlarged your understanding of that
organization’s problem as a result of the class discussions, readings and guest speakers.
At heart, I am looking for analysis rather than description. I’m also interested in documentation of
source material. Finally, whichever sort of topic you choose should be of real interest to you. Length:
5 pages Due May 9. Submit via Blackboard/Assignments
25% Position paper concerning any of the guest speakers. The paper should offer a concise
summary of the speakers’ main points, your critical analysis of the subject matter, and a list of
unresolved issues or questions. Length: 2-3 pages. Submit at any point or by May 9. Submit via
Session One: Wednesday March 28
Introduction to the Subject
Business, the Media and Public Opinion
Preparing for Crisis: environmental scanning and issues management. Strategies for crisis planning.
The components of a plan. Executing and assessing the impact of a crisis plan.
Review of Significant Crises: 1980-2007
The Media And Crisis
Viewing of Roundtable Video, “Eye on the Media”
Discussion of media interests and process; how organizations can anticipate media inquiry; changes
in the nature of media coverage in the past decade.
Readings for Next Session:
• Coors Case Part A (distributed in class)
• Guide to Media Relations, Chapter 2; Crisis Communications, Chapter. 2
Session Two: Wednesday April 4
Guest Speaker: Ronald Alsop, News Editor and Sr. Writer, Wall Street Journal
Issues Management: Managing Your Reputation and Building Credibility
Issues and Advocacy: The Coors Company Case
Assessing strategic choices in the face of media inquiry.
In class discussion of the Coors case, and viewing of CBS 60 Minutes profile of the Coors company.
Reading for Next Session:
• Guide to Media Relations, Chapter 5
• Crisis Communications, Chapter 3
• Activists: “Sizing Up The Problem” (handout)
• Materials on Wal-Mart (handout)
Session Three: Wednesday April 11
Crisis Response Framework
Organizational response to crisis—a theoretical framework. Lecture/discussion.
Grassroots and Advocacy: Wal-Mart and Sprawl Busters
Focus on Wal-Mart and its grass roots opposition in the U.S. during the past decade. The group will
analyze strategies on the Wal-Mart scenario. Selected participants will assume the perspective of
management, others that of the opposition groups. Viewing of 60 Minutes segment.
Reading for Next Session:
• Crisis Manager, Chap. 9
Session Four: Wednesday April 18
Guest Speaker: Chris Atkins, Vice President, Standard and Poor’s
Crisis Preparation and Response from both sides Mr. Atkins spent 25 years on the agency side as
managing director of Burson-Marstellar, Ketchum, and Ogilvy. In 2005, PR Week named him as one
of the country’s go-to consultants in crisis situations. Now, he runs the corporate communication area
of S&P. He will reflect on the differences.
The Corporation Fights Back: Food Lion and ABC
An in-depth look at the Food Lion crisis. Students will review newspaper and televised
accounts of the controversy and we will discuss the principals’ strategies.
Readings for Next Session
• Materials on Coke’s European Crisis,1999 (handout)
Session Five: Wednesday April 25
Coke’s Water Bomb: The UK Dasani Crisis
A look at the dynamics and the choices senior management of Coke needed to make in the wake of a
contamination crisis during the introduction of 2004 introduction of Dasani in the UK. Teams will
assess strategic choices and present a communication strategy. Group Exercise.
Crisis in Your Organization
Role-plays focusing on potential crises that could affect your company. Participants exchange and
discuss short scenarios.
Readings for Next Session
• Crisis Communications, Chapter 5
Session Six: Wednesday May 2
Guest Speaker: James Ker, Director, Emergency and Business Continuity, New York
Bringing it All Back Home: Crisis Preparation and Communication at NYU Discussion of operational
risk planning and crisis response at NYU. Student teams will assess risks and contingencies.
They Heard it on the Grapevine: Rumors and Crisis
Barton, Laurence. Crisis in Organizations: Managing and Communicating in the Heat of Chaos. South-
Western Publising Co. (2001).
Caponigro, J.R. The Crisis Counselor. Barker Business Books (1998).
Fearn-Banks, K. Crisis Communication: A Case Book Approach. Erlbaum Press (1996).
Fombrun, Charles and Van Riel, Cees. Fame and Fortune: How Successful Companies Build Corporate
Reputations, FT/Prentice-Hall, (2004.)
Gottschalk, Jack (ed.) Crisis Response. Gale Research (1993).
Heath, Robert. Crisis Management. Financial Times/Pitman, (1998.)
Kimmel, Allan J. Rumors and Rumor Control. Erlbaum, (2004.)
Larkin, Judy. Strategic Reputation Risk Management, Palgrave Macmillan, (2003)
Lerbinger, Otto. The Crisis Manager, Erlbaum Associates, (1997).
Marconi, Joe. Crisis Marketing: When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies. Probus (1992).
Mitroff, Ian. The Essential Guide to Managing Corporate Crises: A step-by-step handbook for Surviving
Major Catastrohies. Oxford University Press (1996).
__________. Crisis Management: A Diagnostic Guide for Improving Your Organization’s Crisis
Preparedness. Jossey-Bass (1993).
__________. We’re so Big and Powerful Nothing Bad can Happen to Us: An Investigation of America’s
Crisis Prone Corporations. Carol Publishing Group (1990).
Pauchant, Thierry C. Transforming the Crisis-Prone Organization: Preventing Individual, Organizational
and Environmental Tragedies. Jossey-Bass Publishers (1992).
Pinsdorf, Marion K. Communicating When Your Company is Under Seige: Surviving Public Crisis.
Lexington Books (1987).
Regester, Michael and Larkin, Judy. Risk Issues and Crisis Management. Kogan Page (1997).
Sheffi, Yossi. The Resilient Enterprise. MIT Press, (2005.)
Shrivastava, Paul; Mitroff, Ian; Miller, Danny; and Miglani, Anil. “Understanding Industrial Crises” Journal
of Management Studies, vol. 25, No. 4, July 1998.
Smith, Denis. “The Dark Side of Excellence: Managing Strategic Failure”, CIMA Strategic Management
Handbook, J. Thompson (ed) Butterworth-Heinemann (1995).
__________. “Beyond Contingency Planning: Toward a Model of Crisis Management”, Industrial Crisis
Quarterly, No 4, 1990.
Turner, Barry and Pidgeon, Nick. Man-Made Disasters. Butterworth-Heinemann (1997).
Winter, Matthias. Managing Outside Pressure: Strategies for Preventing Corporate Disasters. Wiley