Monday, May 18, 2009

How Much Is Enough?

I’m putting pen to paper (so to speak) to write about how new technology is affecting crisis communications and – like good boy scouts – being prepared obviously requires an online facet: constant monitoring, pro-active responses and a dedicated contingency webpage, for example. And I’m sure in a lot of cases this – as part of an integrated crisis response – will be enough to weather the storm.

But online access and usage are increasing and networks are evolving, especially through social media. News travels faster and is shared among ever larger online groups. So, if Shirky’s book title ‘Here Comes Everybody’ is an accurate forecast, the potential surely exists for far more destructive crisis events. Prevention will always be better than cure but for PR practitioners, the evolving concept of online crisis management begs the question: How much (preparation and reaction) is enough?


  1. Jantzen, there's never enough preparation for a crisis. What's more, when one arrives, common sense can often go out the window, replaced instead by caution and over zealous checking, rechecking and confirming.
    I write from experience of trying to get agreed then post web releases some hours after the crisis has descended, followed in quick order by the media.

  2. How much is enough ?There is no answer .Cause the rate the internet is growing is a question i have many a time asked and found no answers. The way the internet is evolving is great and for PR practitioners , they have to be constantly on the lookout for something new online .

  3. PR professions should analyzing trends, predicting consequences and exercising influence on relations. But technology is growing so fast then we can't avoid any crises. What we should do is form new strategy for the new challenge!

  4. The social media dimension is certainly adding to the complexity of crisis communications planning. There is a careful balance to be struck between putting effort into monitoring/building relations with social media and over-doing this at the expense of getting the facts out through the mass media. Most surveys show that people gravitate back to the mainstream media, particularly broadcast, at a time of crisis.

  5. How much preparation and reaction is enough? It's a delicate balancing act. As you have rightly observed, social media has the potential to cause far more destructive crisis events. So my advice to any PR practitioner is this- over prepare but don't over-react. News spread faster because of the new social media but don't let that scare you. If you have prepared yourself well and isolated the potential ''hot spots'', you will be more than armed to react appropriately. A crisis communications plan that includes how to deal with the social media is a must.

    Some situations might call for you to use the chaos theory as a model for managing issues and crises. Murphy, 2002 uses chaos theory to model public relations situations whose salient feature is the volatility of public perceptions. The volatility of social media makes it necessary to apply the chaos theory to issues management, the evolution of interest groups, crises and rumours. I believe chaos theory is the most useful for the public relations practitioner struggling to structure persistent image problems and to raise questions about organizational control of public perceptions. Because this theory emphasizes uncertainty, open-endedness, plurality and change, chaos theory sets limits on the purposeful management of volatile issues.

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