I was late to the party that is Scandal. Over the summer, I watched five episodes of Olivia Pope expertly turn crisis situations around before I gave up. All said and done, it pepped me up to learn about the world of crisis communication in my elective, Foundations of Strategic Communication Management.
There is a whole science to handling public crises completely unbeknownst to the average Joe. It requires an intricate mix of strategic communication, audience vetting and medium management. There are a myriad of concepts to consider: Instructing information, adjusting information, reputation repair, secondary crisis communication, crisis reaction, etc. It’s no simple task, certainly, and it seems to take a special sort of skill. Of course, in line with all preconceptions about the communications and media field, you can’t help but wonder whether it is really for public pacification or for self-preservation. Perhaps, it varies under different circumstances but exploring the literature behind it definitely helps create a different perspective.
While we often connect crisis communication to corporates, the field also encapsulates other phenomena. For example, earlier this month, Bermuda—yes, the entire country—won four elite British awards for fighting to eliminate its label as a tax haven. Similarly, Panama also hired a crisis communication firm to weather the storm in the aftermath of the Panama Papers leak. Public information about natural disasters also comes under the umbrella of crisis communication–who would have thought?
While the work of crisis communicators naturally comes under scrutiny, it is fascinating to see the breadth of their work and the different opportunities that emerge. At the end of the day, whether it is self-preservation or genuinely public pacification, we all do rely on crisis communicators to let us know, in some small way, that everything will be okay.
MSC Class of 2017