Patient information: See related handout on crisis management, written by the authors of this article. A data bank for patient care, curriculum, and research in family practice: 526,196 patient problems. Severe withdrawal symptoms after discontinuation of alprazolam in eight patients with combat-induced posttraumatic stress disorder. This research note uses scientific research on persuasion to develop recommendations on what to say (and what not to say) when your brand is in crisis, that is, in those situations where a brand faces significant criticism in the marketplace and media. When JetBlue was criticized for operational failure, it seemed that customers previously ecstatic with JetBlue’s fares and service would lose faith in the brand.
The goal of this note is to recommend the communication strategy that should be used in different crisis situations to restore brand image with customers (other stakeholders such as investors need to be considered as well; however, this note focuses on best practices in response to customers).
When the crisis hits, or better yet when you anticipate a crisis, ask yourself how severe the crisis is from the viewpoint of the current and potential customer. Based on the crisis severity analysis, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and try to predict what they will think about the crisis.
Events that precipitate crises are not the norm and are unexpected by consumers for the most part.
Your communication strategy should provide consumers with an answer to the questions posed above.
Another example of a severe crisis that called for an apology and corrective action is that of the Tylenol tampering incident. If the accusation against the brand is not true, then denial could be a useful strategy if target consumers are committed to the brand and do not perceive the crisis to be severe. The rebuttal response even works for crises that are not very severe, but are in danger of being perceived as severe by less-committed customers as the crisis unfolds. This is the only strategy that requires anticipating a crisis and preparing consumers for it by giving them counterarguments. As you can see, the goal of communication during a crisis is to diffuse the crisis by helping consumers understand why it happened and why the brand should not be viewed more negatively as a result of the crisis. High customer commitment is one of the best insurances against the possibly devastating effects a crisis can have for an organization.
While Dell’s perceived customer service problem was gaining momentum before Jarvis blogged his views, industry experts agree that BuzzMachine propelled the issue to crisis status. Mattel was quick to empathize with consumer concerns, but backed away from taking direct responsibility for the recalls, blaming Chinese manufacturers for ignoring Mattel’s quality control mandates.
For the purpose of enhancing organizational sustainability during a crisis, an organization takes a position in decision-making, how to respond toward its public, and that is supposed to determine which stance or tactic to employ.
H1a. Health journalists’ expectations of an organization’s stance for a health-related crisis will be associated with their perceptions of the organization’s responsibility for the crisis. H1b. Health journalists will expect a more accommodative stance when they perceive that an organization bears a high level of responsibility for a health-related crisis.
H2a. Health journalists’ expectations of an organization’s strategy for a health-related crisis will be associated with their perceptions of the organization’s responsibility for the crisis. H2b. Health journalists will expect a more accommodative strategy when they perceive that an organization bears a high level of responsibility for a health-related crisis. H2c. Health journalists will expect a more advocative strategy when they perceive that an organization bears a low level of responsibility for a health-related crisis.
Any event perceived as overwhelming by the patient may trigger a crisis reaction consisting of psychological and physiological symptoms. Although each patient and situation is different, there are several general steps that physicians can follow to respond effectively to a patient’s crisis3,5  (Table 2).
Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. We develop communication strategies that help the brand recover from a crisis and restore consumer trust and liking for the brand. We illustrate our recommendations using cases of successful as well as unsuccessful handling of the recovery from brand crises. To be sure, the answer you provide depends on whether the information provoking the crisis (the transgression) is objectively true or not.
Johnson and Johnson (J&J) simultaneously launched a communication campaign issuing warnings to customers and withdrew the approximately 30 million bottles on store shelves.
This justification response can only be used when the accusation is valid and the crisis is not severe. This strategy is particularly effective if the crisis is severe and likely to receive a lot of media coverage.
Manage consumers’ attributions of blame as well as their thoughts about the future of the brand by providing them with a clear and cohesive narrative that answers their questions about the crisis in a compelling way. Mainstream media backed up the bloggers’ complaints with their own interviews of disgruntled Dell customers. JetBlue was unable to handle the resulting calls from passengers that were trying to reserve other flights due to an outdated information system not prepared for dealing with such a situation. According to Business Week, linking Pepsi with pesticides was enough to scare off even sophisticated consumers. This study aims to examine whether publics’ perceptions of organizational crisis responsibility affect their expectations that an organization should choose certain stances and strategies toward the public in a crisis. IntroductionSustainability is concerned with economic, social, and environmental effects of an organization in the long term, and organizations aim to maximize their absolute values by balancing people, planet, and profit. Crisis Communication StrategyRecent studies in conflict management have integrated crisis response strategy frameworks into the contingency continuum. These include providing reassurance and support to the patient, assessing the situation, ensuring the safety of the patient and others, and teaching the patient strategies that will assist him or her to cope more effectively with the current incident and related symptomatology as well as with future critical incidents.
Six examples illustrate the range of responses to crisis situations and serve as cases to apply the proposed communication framework. At the end of this note, you should know what to say as well as what not to say in different crisis situations.
Brands that have a history of flight delays, however, are less likely to get away with this excuse and are likely to be held responsible for the delay. This quick information campaign coupled with corrective action ensured that J&J did not suffer much fallout from the disaster.
Less-committed customers interpret information through a broader lens and use their liking for the brand to determine what the information means in terms of brand features.29 Brand advertising and PR activities could bolster brand image immediately in the aftermath of a crisis. If consumers understand this, then they are less likely to generalize from the crisis instance to other aspects of the brand, including its future trajectory.


Otherwise, denial could be seen as an admission of guilt.31 In general denial has to be plausible, and the claim that the reported transgression did not in reality occur or that the brand has nothing to do with it has to be viewed as plausible. For example, a large body of research suggests that characteristics associated with a babyface (round eyes, small chin) increase perceptions of honesty and message credibility suggesting that brands can send out a babyface in times of crisis.32 Caution is important though, because even a babyface will not be believed if the crisis is severe and the denial is considered implausible. They are less likely to need help to counterargue when the crisis is not severe.33 If the incident that caused the crisis is very severe, however, then those highly committed to the brand or company have been shown to react just as negatively as those not committed. In less severe cases, attacking the accuser is unnecessary with highly committed customers, but should be used with less-committed customers. Figure 1 provides an overview of the communication tools that are most useful in different circumstances. In a February 2007 survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, just days before the Valentine’s Day crisis it was ranked as No. Lay bloggers and Whole Foods customers, on the other hand, were neither unanimously angry with Mackey nor ready to turn away from the brand, en masse, as a result of the incident.
In order to enhance organizational sustainability, it is in the interest of an organization to understand what its public desires, expects, and needs to hear from the organization when it is facing a conflict, especially when it is apparent that harm to the public has occurred; by doing so, public relations practitioners can anticipate how the public is likely to react and know how better to position their client organizations to select appropriate crisis communication strategies, as well as to assess the potential utility of their various communication options. Research shows that different degrees of advocacy and accommodation result in different crisis communication strategies [10,11,12]. Medication or referral for psychiatric or psychological counseling may be necessary for patients with continuing problems. JetBlue management had a choice—to be resigned to this fate or to use the powerful tool of communication to recover from the crisis. Hence, one way to reduce being blamed in case of a crisis is to build up a good reputation beforehand. To show that it means what it says, since the crisis JetBlue has canceled flights rather than take chances with the weather. The media praised the firm’s handling of the crisis, and Tylenol recovered its market share of 35% in less than a year (from an 8% low at the time of the crisis). An image-building campaign emphasizing the positive aspects of the brand should accompany or follow the apology without seeming to excuse the transgression in any way. Give consumers information to consider when they ask themselves whether the crisis-provoking event was unique to your brand. By choosing wisely from the communication arsenal, you can avert backlash from consumers and perhaps even strengthen your brand when a crisis hits. Pepsi Cola International first entered the Indian market in 1988 through a joint venture with a government-owned company. Corporate Social Responsibility and Consumers’ Attributions and Brand Evaluations in a Product-Harm Crisis.
How people perceive the crisis situation, and especially how people perceive an organization’s crisis responsibility, are critical elements in understanding crisis situations, and people’s perceptions of crisis situations affect the organizational choice of strategies [1,2]. In this research note, we draw on scientific research on persuasion to develop recommendations on what to say when your brand is in crisis.
The goal of the communication strategy should be to restore the brand’s image to pre-crisis state. From the brand management’s standpoint, the incident that sets off a crisis could seem minor. This makes it a viable choice in less severe cases in which customers invest less attention to the specifics of the crisis. Customers were stuck in the airplanes and not allowed to leave for up to eleven hours with little to eat, problematic air and bathroom conditions. Because the public attributes some responsibility for the conflict to an organization, the organization’s response is necessary in dealing with the conflict and, ultimately, in minimizing the harm from the conflict [3,4,5,6]. The most widely used crisis communication strategy approaches in conflict management have been Benoit’s image repair theory and Coombs’ situational crisis communication theory (see Figure 2).
An estimated 4 percent of visits to primary care physicians involve psychiatric or social crises.1,2 Numerous additional visits and telephone calls involve persons who are experiencing medical crises or are presenting with physical symptoms caused by acute stressful events. In a scientific study including more than 28 thousand patients, it was found that usage of Avandia increases the risk of heart attack by 43%.19 In response, the Food and Drug Administration issued a public safety alert and advised an estimated two million patients worldwide to consult their doctors. This is likely even if the crisis is not very severe, as in the case of New-York based ice cream chain CremaLita. Provide cues that help consumers construct a narrative (a story with a sequence of events) that absolves your brand of the sole responsibility for the event.
Nonetheless, despite short-term losses and lingering consumer concerns, Pepsi appeared to be financially recovering from its pesticide crisis. This study, therefore, aims to examine whether publics’ perceptions of crisis responsibility affect their expectations that an organization should choose certain stances and strategies toward the public in certain circumstances. These two theories have provided the dominant paradigms for crisis communication strategy research in public relations [13,14].Benoit’s image repair theory provides general principles that can be applied when developing and understanding how specific strategies can, and should, be used effectively. Although crisis management is not a major part of a physician’s routine, when it does occur it requires time and resources.
Ensure the safety of the patient and others through voluntary hospitalization, involuntary commitment, securing close monitoring by family and friends, or helping to remove the patient from a dangerous situation.STEP 4.
We define crisis situations as those where a brand faces significant criticism in the marketplace and media. Research in consumer psychology helps us understand what the answers to these questions are likely to be under different types of crisis situations.
The continuous misstatement of its product’s fat content led to severe short-term drops in sales and the closing of more than half of its Manhattan stores during the year of the crisis. Corrective action can forestall the inference that this type of event will be associated with the brand in the future and may even reduce perceptions of responsibility and intentionality.
Inoculation can be used with caution if the crisis-provoking event is true—in this case, the role of the message is to make consumers believe that the crisis is not as severe as it will be made out to be in the media. By taking into account the health journalists’ expectations along with the needs of the organization, public relations practitioners are better able to make optimal decisions regarding their client organizations’ adopted stance and strategy, and finally, enhance organizational sustainability in a crisis. Based on the contingency theory of strategic conflict management, this study further asks if a public’s perceptions of an organization’s crisis responsibility can be a new contingency factor affecting their expectations of the organization’s stance and strategy in a crisis, and finally contribute to organizational sustainability.Few studies have examined the ways in which specific public perceptions of an organization’s crisis responsibility affect the public’s expectations of the organization’s stance and strategy toward the public in conflict situations. The theory has been examined primarily in the context of descriptive rhetorical case analyses and has largely focused on communication options.
An analytic framework for crisis situations: Better responses from a better understanding of the situation.
Ironically, severe crises may be perceived as relatively rare, and consumers may be less likely to believe that a negative event of this magnitude would happen again. Predisposing variables, as existing variables, determine the stance of the organization before it goes into a situation dealing with a given public, while the combination and variability of situational variables may shift the stance of the organization over time.


Follow up with the patient to provide ongoing support and to reinforce appropriate action.TABLE 2Principles of Crisis ManagementSTEP 1. Management calculated the costs of fixing the flaw versus managing lawsuits from deaths and injuries and decided to go ahead with the launch of the faulty car. These customers are prone to counterargue themselves and just need to be provided with ammunition in the form of information cues. In their experimental research, they utilized Benoit’s five strategies to measure an organization’s message strategy in crisis communication. Through factor analyses, they defined denial, evading responsibility, and reducing offensiveness as measurements for advocative strategy, and corrective action and mortification as measurements for accommodative strategy.Coombs’ [15] situational crisis communication theory has been developed by drawing upon the crisis response strategies articulated in Benoit’s image repair theory. It is crucial to understand journalists’ perceptions of the crisis, since they affect public perceptions so significantly and public opinion can ultimately put pressure on an organization [7]. Coombs [16] asserts that crisis communication strategies should be arrayed along a continuum (with defensive and accommodative as the end points) and that different stages on the continuum require different crisis repair strategies. In sum, for the purpose of enhancing organizational sustainability, this study examines the causal effects of public relations contingencies on an organization’s stance and strategy toward the public through the lens of public perceptions of organizational crisis responsibility. The term defensive that Coombs used is synonymous with the contingency theory’s stance, advocacy. To investigate these concerns, this study reports on an experiment conducted with health journalists. Coombs [2] argues that crises situations fall on a continuum ranging from weak personal control (less responsibility for the crisis) to strong personal control (more responsibility for the crisis). Coombs notes seven crisis response strategies that can be selected in a situation-based response to a crisis: attack the accuser, denial, excuse, justification, ingratiation, corrective action, and full apology. If the patient is distressed, he or she should be encouraged to use deep breathing techniques and refocus on the problem. These crisis response strategies are characterized by their levels of acceptance of responsibility embodied in the response to the crisis [16,17]. The physician should then commend the patient for seeking help and validate the patient’s experience.
Recent research has attempted to advance Coombs’ crisis management strategy theory by integrating the strategy framework into the contingency continuum.
Jin, Pang, and Cameron [18] focused their study of the SARS case on health-related and government aspects of the crisis and proposed modifying the strategy’s framework. They suggested that an additional strategy, co-operation, be added to the continuum, as well as the re-ordering of corrective action and justification in Coombs’ original crisis management communication strategies.
Report and recommendations regarding psychiatric emergency and crisis services: a review and model program descriptions.
Holtzhausen and Roberts [19] also suggested how contingency theory and Coombs’ situational crisis communication theory offered a promising synthesis of ideas.
These results indicate that health journalists’ perceptions of an organization’s crisis responsibility do have an effect on their expectations regarding the organization’s stance.
Specifically, the results suggest that when health journalists perceive that the organization is highly responsible for a health-related crisis, they expect the organization to take a more accommodative stance; conversely, the journalists expect a more advocative stance when they perceive that the organization has a low level of responsibility for a crisis.
These results suggest that the health journalists’ expectations regarding an organization’s strategy for a crisis are demonstrably associated with their perceptions of the organization’s crisis responsibility. Specifically, the results suggest that the health journalists expect a more accommodative strategy when they perceive that the organization is highly responsible for a health-related crisis. Conversely, when the journalists perceive that an organization has a low level of responsibility for a crisis, they expect a more advocative strategy. Protecting organization reputations during a crisis: The development and application of situational crisis communication theory. Family members and friends should be encouraged to remove any firearms and potentially dangerous medications from the patient’s environment and to safeguard the patient from other lethal means. Therefore, H2a, H2b, and H2c were supported.In sum, the results indicate that health journalists’ perceptions of organizational crisis responsibility affect their expectations that an organization should choose certain stances and strategies toward the public in a crisis. Ongoing monitoring of the patient is essential, with appropriate modifications made to the action plan as necessary.If the patient is homicidal, the physician must ensure the safety of the patient and of potential victims.
In other words, public perceptions of an organization’s crisis responsibility could be a contingent factor to the conflict continuum and resulting conflict management strategies.
The results provide empirical guidelines to practitioners for selecting appropriate crisis response strategies. Board of Regents of the University of California mandates that physicians have a duty to warn and protect intended victims of a patient.17Patients experiencing a crisis in which they are at risk of bodily harm must be encouraged to remove themselves from the situation immediately.
Expectation of an Organization’s Stance ResponsibilityStance was operationalized as an organization’s position toward the public in a crisis.
Expectation of an organization’s stance was operationalized as the degree to which participants in this study hold the opinion that an organization should assume a more accommodative or advocative position toward the public in a crisis. Participants’ expectations regarding an organization’s stance in a crisis communication were measured as participants’ expectations of the degree of accommodation of the company. Public’s expectation about an organization’s stance in crisis communication based on perceived leadership and perceived severity of threats. The factor analyses with Direct Oblimin rotation also provided results consistent with the Varimax rotation analyses. These results suggest that the 9-item instrument measuring strategy reflects satisfying internal consistency within each factor, and the subscales seemed reasonable and parsimonious. ConclusionsIn order to enhance organizational sustainability in a crisis, this study attempted to explore how health journalists’ perceptions of an organization’s responsibility during a health-related crisis affect their expectations of the organization’s stance and strategy. The perception of crisis responsibility was highly supported by the experimental data of this research as a valid influence on the expectations of an organization’s stance and strategy. The findings establish that health journalists’ perceptions of an organization’s crisis responsibility can be a new contingency factor affecting their expectations of the organization’s stance and strategy in a crisis. In particular, health journalists’ perceptions of an organization’s crisis responsibility can be added to the list of contingency factors as a situational variable, one that is highly likely to influence how an organization relates to an external public.
This new contingency factor will not only contribute to practitioners’ ability to monitor the environment and to choose stances and strategies of communication to journalists, but will also extend the ability of scholars and theorists to manage the factors in enhancing organizational sustainability.



Family disaster supplies kit list
Sample business continuity plan policy statement


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