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Crisis Communication principles #CrisisComms

Crisis Communication principles #CrisisComms



A brief "CrisisComms 101" about the main principles of general and crisis communications. All these concepts can easily be applied to Social Media Emergency Management and Issue Management.

A brief "CrisisComms 101" about the main principles of general and crisis communications. All these concepts can easily be applied to Social Media Emergency Management and Issue Management.



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Crisis Communication principles #CrisisComms Crisis Communication principles #CrisisComms Presentation Transcript

  • The Principles of General & Crisis Communication Massimiliano Mesenasco Media Languages B.A. Sociology M.Sc. @MMesenasco
  • Follow the live stream of documents, links and resources about emergency communication and social media emergency management on @MMesenascoSpkng
  • Communication is the transmission of informations The aim of communication is to transmit a message from a source to a receiver without any loss of information even in presence of noise. This presentation is meant to be a “Crisis communication 101”, so...
  • The secret for a good communication is... Or maybe not...
  • The “Hypodermic needle” or “Magic Bullet” was the first relevant model of communication. Rooted in the Psychological Behaviorism of the ‘30s (like B.F. Skinner, for example), this theory suggests that the message is completely absorbed by the receiver exactly as intended by the sender. ...but this process is a bit more complex than this...
  • Source Message Transmitting device Receiving deviceChannel Noise Message Receiver
  • Source Receiver The code is a set of rules that allows encoding and decoding D O G D O G = = = DOG D O G E 4 ¶ = = = E4¶ ? Encoding Decoding Signifier Meaning Meaning Signifier
  • Source Message Transmitting device Receiving deviceChannel Noise Message Receiver Encoding Decoding
  • According to Ferdinand de Saussure, the categories of signifier and meaning are the key to understand the sharing and the transmission of the informations. signifier meaning > > DOG The word “DOG”, our signifier, bears the idea of the dog, our meaning, but only for those who are able to link the signifier and the meaning. This process is arbitrary, with some exceptions, like onomatopoeias and interjections.
  • This concept seems very simple and basic applied to single words but try to apply it to technical terms like “flash flood” or “earthquake swarm”: the experts use these expressions everyday but the general public may not fully understand them. Is everything clear? Let’s put this into practice with a little example!
  • Almost everyone in the World knows the meaning of the word “pizza” but... ...as it’s frequently said that the Inuits have more than 20 words to define different kinds of snow, in Italy we have almost 20 ways to define flatbread! Words and expressions can even assume different meanings among people who speak the same language!
  • So, how can we communicate in a correct way? To understand the importance of a good communication, let’s analyse a quote by Paul Watzlawick, one the most influential figures of Palo Alto School.
  • “One cannot not communicate” Even silence is communicative and the same is for our clothes, our facial expression, our car and so on. Communicating during an emergency is essential, otherwise people will gather informations from any available source, including unofficial and untrusted ones.
  • Paul Grice identifies four maxims useful to achieve a cooperative communication Quality Quantity Relation Manner > > > > Make your contribution as informative as required Be truthful Be pertinent Be clear, avoid ambiguity
  • So, what are the main features of a good message? - Authoritative - Brief - Clear
  • A brief warning about authoritativeness and authority! According to De Certeau, technical knowledge (authoritativeness) leads to authority but authority is in turn strictly bound to its abuse. L’abuse de savoir gives authority to the expert, even about topics far from his field of knowledge. We can affirm that this effect is even stronger if messages are endorsed by an organization.
  • And now that we acquired the right forma mentis to create a perfect message, how will this influence people’s behavior during emergencies?
  • Hesitation Panic An unclear communication may result in...
  • In this case, people will gather informations from unofficial sources and they could ground their behavior on untrustworthy data.
  • A correct communication process means... Safety
  • Our message satisfies the audience and its need for informations.
  • Consider that, according to the situation awareness theory, the decision making is preceded by three cognitive steps. Perception Comprehension Projection Decision making Action Situational Awareness In order to make a conscious and sensible decision to handle a situation (especially a risky and stressful one) the subject must obtain the informations needed to fill these three boxes.
  • The construction of the situational awareness is a process that may require a very short or a very long time, depending on the situation, and, most of all, the more complete and comprehensive the informations are, the more the decision fits the situation. To ease the decision-making process in emergency situation, we have to work during peacetime to spread emergency culture among the population. Remember! Only with an everyday relation the organizations can build the necessary trust to diffuse the emergency culture and to work as gatekeeper of unofficial informations during crises.
  • A further recommendation Crisis communication is not limited to crises, it involves a constant work! Mitigate Prepare Respond Recover
  • My two cents... Ignore social media at your peril!
  • Thank you for your attention! Let’s keep in touch! it.linkedin.com/in/massimilianomesenasco/ @MMesenasco