Crisis Background


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Crisis Background

  1. 1. Lost Missiles, Lost Messages Understanding crisis management and crisis communication A supplement to a presentation on crisis communication
  2. 2. What is a Crisis? • “The perception of an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of stakeholders and can seriously impact an organization’s performance and generate negative outcomes.” –Timothy Coombs – Unpredictable – Threatens expectancies – Impacts performance – Perception
  3. 3. Crisis Management • Very similar to emergency preparedness • Goal is to prevent or lessen negative impact of crisis • Four interrelated factors: – Prevention • Mitigate risk of crisis – Preparation • Crisis Management Plan • Identifying and preparing for vulnerabilities – Response • Application of preparation components – Revision (if you survive…) • Evaluating and improving response • Crucial to preserving an organization’s reputation • Many organizations overlook importance of crisis management
  4. 4. The All-Encompassing Crisis Mgmt Plan • 2009 study of coal industry by Miller and Horsley – Showed coal industry had extensive CMPs, but stakeholders still perceived great levels of crisis • CMPs did not include emphasis on communication – Dearth of communicators in crisis leadership – No understanding of stakeholder needs • CMPs included engrained hostility toward media – Mandated restrictions of media access – Non-communicators assigned as media liaisons – Expectation gaps • Your level of crisis preparedness and executions is irrelevant if your stakeholders are unaware • Remember that perception is part of the definition of a crisis
  5. 5. Communicating in a Crisis • Normal rules don’t apply during a crisis – Shortened response times – Impact on all organizational functions – Greater emphasis on accuracy, transparency and consistency in messages • Common crisis communication goals – Prevent or minimize damage – Maintain operations – Protect organizational reputation
  6. 6. Crisis of the Ages • Communicating through 9/11 – Mayor Rudy Giuliani held regular press briefings throughout the day • Put out information as soon as he had it – Information on where to go for treatment – Information on how to stay out of the way of the crisis response teams • Some information was incorrect, but information got out quickly in spirit of transparency • Regular meetings allowed him to correct information in a timely manner • Maximum disclosure, minimum delay
  7. 7. High-Reliability Organizations • My case study focused on Air Force response through the HRO lens – This presentation doesn’t go into that depth, but concept is relevant to IEM missions • HROs are organizations with missions in which failure could lead to potential catastrophe – Concept has been applied to numerous operations in research • Airport security • Naval flight operations • Coal mining • Nuclear operations – Increased importance for crisis preparedness
  8. 8. High-Reliability Organizations • HROs share many of these common traits: – Practice mindfulness • Preoccupation with potential for failure • Deference to expertise – Centralized command with decentralized decision- making authority – Team members share common understanding of goals – Constant operational training – Regular assessment of plans and execution – Redundant operations and safety checks – Highly scrutinized by stakeholders and regulators – Show evidence of organizational learning
  9. 9. Air Force Doctrine Document 2-5.3 • Governs Air Force Public Affairs – “Maximum disclosure of timely and accurate information as rapidly as possible” • National Incident Management System – Does not mention crisis communication – Says PA ops should be incorporated in operations – Emphasizes trust with stakeholders • Support operations • Aid in recruitment – Must be a balance between security and transparency • Cannot release sensitive operational information • Cannot withhold information simply because it is unflattering
  10. 10. Military Public Affairs • Military public affairs officers are considered special staff – Have direct ear of commander – Are often several steps lower in rank • For first time in 11 years, current Air Force chief of public affairs is a general officer – Rank gap allows commanders to ignore public affairs guidance in many situations – Other military policies can trump public affairs policy (we’ll see this happen)
  11. 11. Crisis Communication? • Considering this information, did the incidents of August/September 2007 constitute a crisis for the Air Force? – Unpredictable event • Redundant safety measures should have prevented this – Negative impact on operations • Nuclear operations immediately halted • Nuclear surety certifications revoked – Perceived negatively by stakeholders • Editorials in local and national press • Negative comments in congressional hearings • Department of Defense lost of confidence in AF leadership