Problem With An Acute Character Communications Essay


It is very simple. Communication is the process of social interaction where the sender, through a medium with a purpose - intentional or unintentional - gives information to the receiver and the receiver proceeds this information. But in practice communication is not always that simple…

In crisis communication we have to think about the purpose of the message we send, it can have enormous consequences. It is also very important to think about how we send a message.

It is important that the message is being decoded by the receiver. This depends on the linguistic usage or how we write a message and how the message is being represented

(verbal or non- verbal). Use of language and choice of words are extremely important, not only with formulating the message as well as processing and interpretation of the message by the receiver. We also have to think about the perception of the receiver and the possibility of rustle. The receiver has to decode the information and translate it into their own situation. This means that the sender has to think about the target group (the receiver) before he formulates the message. In general we can say that a message that is not formulized well, can cause for rustle in the communication process.

1.2 Condition for effective communication

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There are a few conditions for effective communication which are very important:

§ The information has to have the right proportion. This means that in practice, there has to be a balance between giving all the information and holding back information. In case of a crisis it is very important to realize that holding back information will eventually turn against you. The media can also reveal information that your company didn't want to reveal. This affects the credibility of your company.

§ The receiver of the message has to understand the information and place it into the right perspective.

§ It must respond to the way the receiver selects and processes information.

When there is an active and good realization of communication, it is surprising how, for example, a company can give steering to the information service. We have to take the different sorts of receivers and the way they react on the message, into consideration. The receiver selects the information based on interest, already present knowledge and credibility of the sender. Therefore it is very important to know the different parties which you have to communicate with during a crisis.

As earlier mentioned, we can divide communication in Verbal and Non- verbal communication. Verbal communication has to be in line with Non- verbal communication, but in practice this is not that obvious. Facial expression, posture, appearance, clothing and the environment are issues that must fit the message.

We can conclude that effective communication starts with recognizing the receiver and adjusting the message to this receiver. [1]

2. Crisis communication, do not panic!

2.1 What is crisis communication?

Every moment of every day a company or organization can be affected by a crisis. Every crisis is different as well as the nature and the intensity. A crisis can be about the environment, an organization or a product related situation. For example a nature disaster or company issues like an explosion, a fire, an accident with a plane or a ship. It can also be about a product that does not satisfy to the quality requirements or it can be about a fraud situation or a criminal activity. When there is a crisis, it attracts the attention of the company in a threatening way and it can lead to reputation damage of the company or organization.

A well prepared crisis communication plan is of invaluable worth. Crisis communication and crisis management are especially focused on acute situations. The effectiveness and persuasiveness is being determined by the effort before the actual crisis. Anticipate, planning ahead and making concrete preparations, are the most important things.

A crisis is a problem with an acute character, that will attract a lot of external attention after publishing (most of the time through media) and asks for an appropriate reaction from the external target groups and a fast approach and solution.

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When there is a crisis, the organization is not only responsible for their own actions, but they also have to be prepared and take the responsibility for disturbances from the outside.We all realize that when there is a nature disaster or a criminal or terroristic treatment, we cannot blame them on the organization. But we can expect from the organization to be aware of possible risks, measures and plans to handle the situation. Especially for the government, who have full responsibility when there is a disaster or another issue. As already mentioned, a crisis can cause for a lot of damage to the image of an organization. This also depends on the core activities and the core values of the organization. Every company has his own risk profile when it comes to reputation damage.

2.2 When do you call a situation a crisis?

In principle there is no talk of a crisis situation when a company almost certainly knows that the situation does not get attention from the media. The organization can focus on solving the problem and taking measurements to prevent the situation of happening again. The main point is that you never know if a situation will get external attention. An organization has to make a choice between coming out with the issue or not. When the issue gets the first signs of attention from the media, the organization can take the direction into own hands by publication to the media. When they don't come out and the media finds out about the issue, it can even have more damage to the image of the organization.

A crisis is a problem which can lead to serious damage to the image of the company or organization (reputation damage), or to the faith in the supplied products or services.[2]

3. Crisis management & Crisis communication

3.1 Differences and similarities

When there is a crisis, crisis management and crisis communication can be seen as a whole. Communication is a central instrument in crisis management because the message is important, but also the way that the message is being send. With communication we can define the crisis and the process of the situation. Although crisis communication always has to support crisis management.

We can describe crisis management as the systematic attempt to prevent or control a crisis situation. A crisis is an emergency situation and can disturb the functioning of a organization. Crisis situations are defined by four elements:

- substantial treatment to the organization

- the surprising element

- high level of insecurity

- short decision time

Crisis management contains methods to predict, to judge, analyze and preventemergency situations. The first stages of a crisis situation are often chaotic and therefore plans are being drafted until recovery and normalization of the situation sets in. Procedures are recorded in a crisis management plan. In this plan there is attention for the fact that the reality and the perception of the situation are parted from each other. Possible scenarios are described in the plan and also what to expect from different authorities or social workers.

A crisis always comes unexpected. Good preparation is the most important job of the crisis manager. Good communication, a plan, a good operating team and a well prepared crisis centre are all conditions for managing the crisis. Most important is that the crisis is not only prepared, but trained. By simulating a disaster, you can test the possible situation and the way the situation is being handled.

4. Handling a crisis situation

4.1 Main points for crisis communication

When there is a crisis it is very important to handle the situation correctly. This means that the organization has to be prepared to make crucial time saving possible. Crisis communication takes place during and after a disaster. There are general rules for effective communication during a crisis:

1. Handle quick and be prepared

A crisis is most of the time unexpected, therefore it is very important that you can active the crisis procedure at all times. It is also important that the members of the crisis team can be mobilized at any time. When the crisis procedure is activated, the crisis teams get together and start gathering and analyzing information. It is very important to establish the main lines and the practical information. For example technical equipment (location, e-mail and fax facilities and phone numbers), or basic material (photos and illustrations).

2. Take initiative in communication

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In the first phase of a crisis, there is not much information available about the actual crisis. Take initiative in communication by starting to report information and to communicate information and answers to people with questions, like the press, relatives, employees etc. Taking initiative is the funding of effective communication management. If a company doesn't take initiative, it can have a negative effect on the image.

3. Take care of centralized crisis communication

In times of a crisis it is most important that the organization ‘speaks with one mouth'. All the information, about the crisis, has to come from one central point: the crisis team. The press information has to be taken care of one or a few spokesman. It has to be clear for every employee that the questions according to the crisis, have to be lead to the crisis communication team. They have to give the same answers and have the same perspective about the situation.

4. Present responsibility and complicity

During a crisis, it is important that the organization shows that they feel responsible for addressing and resolving the crisis. Do not ‘blame' others for the situation, this can turn against you. When people got hurt or even died in a crisis, the team has to express feelings of care and compassion to the relatives.

5. Only spread true information

A crisis always tests the liability of an organization. Because of the emotions and tensions it is not always easy to distinguish facts from interpretations. The organization has to limit the information to facts which are at least checked twice on liability. It also better for the organization when they communicate the factual information clear and whiteout delay. This creates credibility and trust. At the same time, panic has to be prevented, especially in crisis communication by public bodies because it can cause for panic situations. Trust in a good approach and solution, can limit panic.

6. Work together with complicit public bodies.

A crisis situation needs involvement of governmental agencies. For example the police or the fire department. Work together with these agencies and use the powers to take care of the situation. Make sure that there are, before the actual crisis, agreements on the course of action because there is no time for differences in opinion. If there are arguments about the situation, this will give the impression that the organization does not want to follow the rules. But it is also important for governments to make agreements with the organizations. Clarity about the role that the government has, based on responsibility will reduce the change of arguments and confusion during the crisis.

7. Direct connection between crisis management and crisis communication.

In times of a crisis there has to be a mutual connection between crisis management (crisis team) and crisis communication (communication team). Therefore a crisis team is required for taking care of the procedure and a solution for the crisis, and a crisis communication team that takes care of the communication. The chairman of the crisis communication team can take care of the connection between the two teams.

8. Work with ‘worst case scenario's'

Every crisis is different and has its own dynamic. Events follow each other and facts and developments are connected. Scenario's are developed for situations with a limited impact, but there also have to be ‘worse case scenario's' for situations with more impact. For example death victims instead of injured victims. A ‘worst case scenario' prevents that a new policy must be formulated halfway the crisis. In practice the situation can be worse than the crisis team taught in the first place.

5. Preparations for a crisis

5.1 The crisis communication plan

As already mentioned, preparation for a crisis is half the work. A structured plan is important to keep the situation under control.A company never knows when a crisis hits them; therefore a crisis plan is part of the management system. This plan contains all the procedures, the important instruments and the help resources.

It is essential for the organization that the plan is made by staff members that are actually put on the case during the crisis. This will create involvedness with crisis management and communication, but most important, they know the practical workability.

First of all it is important to formulate crisis policy; how does the company handle certain situations, what are the rules and the goals of the company in a crisis. You can also formulate the core values of the organization because you could mention them during the press conference.

The essence of a crisis plan contains the concrete formulation of the actions that have to be taken: First make a list of relevant crisis risks. These risks have to be divided in danger groups with information about the steps of action. Then the most relevant crisis situations have to be worked out in scenarios. This contains the values, criteria and concrete consecutive actions. Then there has to be a program for the maintenance of the crisis communication plan. This means periodical actualization of the hand book, training and exercise programs, principle documents (e.g. basic texts, factsheets and illustrations) and, very important, the contact lists.

The most important aspect of a crisis plan is structure and clear information. When there is a crisis there is no time to read long pieces of text. The most important steps have to be formulated with a very short notification. [6]

6. The actual crisis

6.1 Attention points

When there is a crisis, the first thing to do is to think about what you are going to say. An organization can feel the tension of a crisis situation in the press contacts. The first journalists will call to get information, even if you don't know the exact facts. If you don't give information, journalists will find other sources. It is of value for the organization to keep the attention from the journalists and provide them the information from the spokesperson.

When the crisis is critical and keeps the attention from the media, then it is necessary to organize a press conference. A press conference gives structure and control of the press contacts. In a press conference you provide journalist of the same uniform information and answers to question from the media.

6.2 Handling the press

Good contact with the press is crucial. When you build a relationship with the journalists, they will be supportive and use your source for their work. It can also be of use to the future. On the other hand, journalist can be very sneaky and lore you out of your position during a press conference. The journalist can indicate to your folds, but you can also indicate their folds. A few examples of situations that can occur:

§ The interviewer asks a few question at the same time, when this happens the spokesperson can indicate that he/she will answer the questions one by one.

§ The interviewer sums up the wrong information. The spokesperson for the press can say that this is a false and he/she repeats what he/she did say.

§ The interviewer does not ask a question, but gives his own conclusion. The spokesperson can say that this is their opinion and then state his own answer.

§ The interviewer uses inappropriate language or words that are not of use, e.g. ‘mess'. When this happens, the spokesperson can answer that he certainly would not use that word in this context.

§ The interviewer asks suggestive or hypostatical questions. The spokesperson has to correct the question if this is necessary and then give the right answer.

These are only a few examples. But as already mentioned, preparation is important to handle the press correctly. It is a very difficult task because you can easily say something that can have a large impact. Preparation for a press conference is usually by making a Q & A list, this is a question and answer list. The crisis team formulates possible questions from the press and the answer that the spokesperson would give in that situation. During the actual press conference, it is important to repeat your message and the core values of the organization.

To sum up: the message that we give to the press is extremely important. Not only answering the questions correctly, but also a good body language. This can be your posture, eye- contact or facial expressions. Journalists can easily recognize your emotions through your body language and will respond to that. Do not lie to a journalist; be honest because otherwise it can have negative consequences.[7]

7. Crisis situations all over the news

There have been many crisis situations all over the world, one worse than the other. In this chapter you can read information about different crisis situations that dominated the national and international news. A crisis is always interesting for the media; this is something that was also the case in all the national and international situations that are described in this chapter.

7.1 National

During the years The Netherlands had to cope with different tragic situations. In this chapter there is information about a few situations that shocked the whole country and the role of the crisis communication team.

7.1.1 Queens birthday 2009

The Queen's birthday of last year on the 30th of april in Apeldoorn was a real disaster. On this black day a man in a car ran into the audience that was watching the passing bus with Queen Beatrix and her family. The man's target was the royal family. The crisis caused the lives of eight people, including the perpetrator Karst. T. , eighteen victims were injured. The perpetrator drove into memorial statue ‘De Naald'. Eventually he died of is injuries. The first press conference of this crisis can be seen with the subjoined link.[8]

We can call this situation a crisis because it caused the lives of several people and it was a attack on the Queens family. The crisis was all over the news in the Netherlands but also in countries all over the world. On the internet you can find several films of the crisis and people lying on the ground being generated, you can also see that everybody can walk through the road where the victims lie on the ground and you can hear policeman shouting to go away. The crisis team has to be prepared for situations like this and they have to have a crisis plan. But when a crisis actually hits, it is important to prevent panic and keep the situation under control. On the internet you can see that this is almost impossible because there are so many people involved. [9]

The events of Queens's day are still fresh in everyone's memory. The communication department of the Police North-East Gelderland worked with the whole team on a clear crisis communication for this tragic day. The first priority during this crisis is the medical help for the victims and the safety of the royal family. Directly after the incident, the phone lines were overloaded with calls. The major and the chief of policy Gelderland were limited or not reachable. A few police staff members were available for priority calls, but this was not the case for the other emergency services. A lot of people were put in the waiting line and this caused confusion because people thought that there was no connecting with the network.

This is an example of a communication task that did not go as planned. The investigation of the Inspection of Public Policy Order and Safety show the results of the events of Queens's day 2009 in a rapport. This is an independent investigation to insure the safety of the society.

The most important aspect of crisis communication is preparation and possible scenarios that can cause a crisis. For the communication of Queens Day there was a master controller for communication and an adviser for conflict and crisis control. In the rapport you can read that there had to be made a lot of decisions on communication level and decisions about their activities. Also a plan of action for the whole day is a task for communication. This plan of action describes different scenarios for that day, for example sick people, bad whether circumstances but also physical treats, an attack or explosion. We have to be prepared for anything, but this is almost impossible. The tasks for communication are divided in forehand. On Queensway there were for example two press instructors and two press release reporters. After the crisis, good information providing is extremely important for the relatives of the victims. The press is always on the spot, so it is important that the crisis team provides honest information. A press conference is necessary to give everyone the right information, this is crucial in almost every situation.

These are only a few examples of activities that have to be arranges by the crisis communication team. There are a lot of parties involved during a day like queens day and structure is needed. This shows how important preparation is! [10]

7.1.2 Airplane crash Schiphol

On Wednesday morning on the 25th of February 2009, an Boeing 727 of Turkish Airlines crashed nearby Schiphol Airport in a grass land. The plane broke in three pieces. The airplane was on his way from Istanbul to Amsterdam. Nine passengers died during the crash. A bad functioning altimeter and incomplete information of the air traffic control was the cause of the terrible crash. The investigation counsel says that the accident could have been prevented. A short video of the press conference can be seen with the link 11 below. [11][12]

Like all the crisis situations, the crash of Boeing 727 was in the news in the whole world. The first film of the crash was made by an amateur and these films were also used on the news. This is an example of the role of amateurs; the news needs the people for information. Everyone wants to know what happened and this also relies on social media. For example twitter, they had the information earlier than the newspapers. The role of the social media is important because this forces organizations to handle the situation quickly and give the right information. But the first priority always has to be the victims.

In the situation of the airplane crash nearby Schiphol mistakes on communication level were made. For example CNN reported that Turkish Airlines does not belong to one of the safe companies of the Netherlands, but Schiphol offers tickets of Turkish airlines. A crash like the one of Turkish Airlines has an effect on the image of the company. Different experts say that Turkish Airlines belongs to the less safe aviations companies of Europe. The accusations of the experts have a huge impact on the image. These accusations are based on facts about the airline and this is not something that can be solved by communication. [13]

Another mistakes is the number of deadly victims of the plane crash. There are a lot of different official statements about the number of people that died because of the crash. Community Haarlemmermeer has to register the victims, but the passengers list of Turkish Airlines was unclear and incomplete. One passenger and a small child were not on the list. It was not clear to which hospital all the injured passenger were brought. The wife of a passenger that passed away was looking for her husband in all the hospitals. One day after the disaster she heart that her husband passed away. These are all terrible mistake. In a crisis situation the first priority are the victims and providing information to the family members of the victims as soon as possible. During the press conference nothing was mentioned about the number of deadly victims and the chaos with the passengers list. Later it came clear that they did not have a structured plan.

7.1.3 The murder on Milly Boele

A twelve year old girl, Milly Boele, was murdered on the 16th of march 2010 by her neighbor Sander V. He was a police man of corps Rotterdam- Rijnmond of district North. The policeman turned himself in to the police a week after the murder and confessed that he raped and killed the girl and then buried her in his garden.

The news is very shocking to everyone, especially because the murderer is a police man. This is something that nobody expects from a police officer. The girl was missing on Wednesday the 10th of March and found dead a week later. The case got rural attention because of a search action the day after Milly was missing. Until Tuesday afternoon the police got two-hundred-and-fifty tips that did not lead to anything.

In this situation mistakes were made by the police. The amber alert, a rural warning system for missing children, was set in too late. The missing of Milly was passed on very late, after 17 hours and there was a relative old photograph of the twelve year old girl. [14]

There is a lot of negative reaction on the police of Rotterdam- Rijnmond. A lot a people cope with anger towards other police officers. According to different sources, several former colleagues of Sander V. noticed that the policeman had an, almost pedophile, preference for young girls in the age of Milly Boele. Several former colleagues noticed this because he was very flirty towards young girls. Sources say that he police made huge mistakes in this case. People are questioning the liability of the police; can we trust the police after this tragic incident? [15]

This case is very emotional for many people. They trust the police to protect their children from harm. The police did not reveal important information and a lot of people are angry because of this. As already mentioned, honesty is important in a situation like this. A company decides which information they will reveal and which information they keep to themselves. When they hold back crucial information, it will turn against them if it comes out. In this case it has an effect on the image of the police of Rotterdam- Rijnmond, but also on the police in general.

7.2 International

In this chapter there are a few examples of crisis situations about nature disasters. These disasters were all over the news, therefore crisis management is crucial.

7.2.1 Plane crash Libya

A resent crisis situations is the airplane crash in Libya on the 12th of May 2010. The Airbus A330, from the Libyan airline Afriqiyah Airways, crashed on landing at Tripoli airport in Libya. The plane came from Johannesburg, South Africa. Hundred- and- three occupants died during the crash, sixty- one of the people were Dutch. The only survivor of the crash is the nine- year old Dutch boy, Ruben, from Tilburg.

This tragic crash dominated the world news for several weeks and still does. For example in the ABC News, the Prime minister from the Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende shows his remorse. This can be seen with subjoined link. [16]

The crash had a lot of impact on everyone. Structured crisis communication in this situation is extremely important, especially for the family members of the victims. It is necessary that they get important information about the situation. Dutch minister Maxime Verhagen from foreign affairs gave a press conference in Hoofddorp about the latest situation involving the airplane crash. The press conference can be watched on the internet with the below link (17) on YouTube. [17]

Especially the little boy, Ruben van Assouw, is all over the news. He survived the plane crash which is a real miracle. Journalists and reporters try to get information about the boy and sometimes go too far to get this information. For example a journalist from the Dutch paper ‘'De Telegraaf' spoke to the nine year old boy just after the accident happened. “It is unfortunate that they got to speak to Ruben”, says the minister of Foreign affairs Ed Kronenburg from Tripoli. He says that the privacy of the boy should be better protected. The journalist from ‘De Telegraaf' says that he got the number from a doctor who treated the boy in the hospital in Tripoli.

The doctors gave a press conference about the situation of the little boy. But media ethicist Huub Evers of the Fontys thinks that the media shouldn't have shown the Dutch boy recognizable all over the news. A lot of camera's already zoomed in on the boy at the day of the crash. Ruben was then on the intensive care. The Libyan doctors also talked about all the injuries to the rest of the world. At that time it was still unclear if the parents of the boy were on the plane or not.Prime minister Maxime Verhagen says that this has to do with their culture. The doctors just want to show to the world that they do everything in their power to help the little boy. Nevertheless, the Dutch government asked the Libyan authorities to be more careful. [18]

Another issue that is in the news, relating to the crisis, is the fact that journalist, and actually anyone, can walk through the fragments of the air plane on the place where the plane crashed.

These are all examples of mistakes that are made during this crisis. During a crisis it is very important to think about everything and keep the situation under control. This is not always easy, especially when it is world news and everyone can gain information. It shows that crisis communication is not easy, but extremely important.

The cause of the disaster is still unclear. The staff from Afriqiyah Airways doesn't understand why the plane did not land on runway 27; this runway has an advanced navigation system to help the plane land. There will be more information about the cause of the crash when the Libyan authorities get the information from the black box. It is not unusual that this could take months.

This shows that giving information is very important for everyone, especially the family members of the people who died during the crash. They want to know what happened to their love ones.

Fragments of the Airbus on Tripoli Airport, Photograph AP

7.2.2. Oil leak in the gulf of Mexico

On the 20th of april 2010 a fire arose on the drilling platform ‘Deepwater' in the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion. After that the platform sunk into the sea. The explosion caused three oil leaks that are destroying all kinds of animals and sea life. The oil leak even causes carcinogenic aromatics. According to the American coastguard 800.000 liters of oil leaks into the sea each day. [19]

This crisis situation was world news and people from all over the world were, and still are, confronted with the damage that it has on our world. There were different press conferences to clarify the situation, the latest press conference can be seen with the link below. [20]

The press conference is a very important aspect of crisis management. In this press conference you see the important rules that are necessary during a conference. The spokesman gives information about the situation of the crisis at that moment. In the situation of the oil leak, there are four different spokespersons and they all share their information and after that they answer the questions of the journalists. A phone line is opened after the press conference for further questions. The ground rules and the time for the press conference are mentioned by the first spokesman. For example: turn of your phone, raise your hand when you have a question and provide your name and affiliation.

In the situation of the oil leak, oil company executives point fingers at each other. But in a crisis situation the focus should be on managing the crisis and when the situation is under control, than you can focus on crisis prevention.

7.2.3 Ash cloud Island

The volcanic eruption on the 14th of april 2010 from volcano ‘Eyjafjallajökull' in Island, is still causing for a lot of trouble. The volcano spewed ash up to 30.000 feet high, which caused for massive problems in the aviation. The ash of the volcano can be dangerous for airplanes because the engines can fall out. Because of safety reasons a lot of airports, including Britain, Spain and Portugal, were and are still closed. At other airports, flights are delayed or even cancelled. At this moment it is still unclear for how long the volcano remains active. Experts say it could take month up to years before the volcano comes to rest.[21] More information about the volcano and the situation can be seen with subjoined link on YouTube. [22]

This crisis situation has an effect on a lot of people. It is a situation that is not in our hands because we don't know when the volcano comes to rest and when it is save again for all airplanes to fly. A lot of flights from different airports were cancelled because of this crisis, also Shiphol. Therefore it is important to give travelers good information about the situation in the aviation. The problems also cost the aviation companies a lot of money. How large or small the crisis is, good communication is the most important. Give information on the website, through mobile text messages or an article in the paper. When we look at the information service from Schiphol during this crisis, different mistake were made. A lot of passage complained about lack of information. Schiphol recognizes that the information service could have been better.

Another issue in this situation were and are the opinions and discussions about closing the Airport for safety reasons. Some experts think that closing the airport was unnecessary and rigorous. The decision to close the airport is in hand of the Air traffic control of the Netherlands and is based on European rules. Minister Eurlings from Transport, wants to take a look at this rule and see if aviation companies can get more participation about this issue.

When it comes to handling a crisis, it is important to control the situation, and not make it worse. In this case it is very difficult because a lot of people want to fly to their destination, but safety is the most important. If Schiphol or any other airport let's an airplane fly and something happens, they are in much more trouble then before. In a crisis a lot of difficult and important choices have to be made, all the possible scenarios have to be taken into consideration. The safety is the most important, but also the image of the company plays a big role. [23]

Not only the airports give information about the flights, all over the news there is information about the ash cloud and how long it takes until the volcano is back to rest again. The media also affects the way that a crisis is being handled. If a company is not honest about the situation, other sources will reveal otherwise. Companies have to think carefully about information that they want to reveal to the outside world.

8. Holding back information?

8.1 Answers to the main question

Do companies, organizations or the government hold back information in crisis situations and what is the reason for holding back this information?

There is no simple and straight answer to this question, but I will give an answer to this question based on my own research.

The first hour of a crisis situation is crucial. Also mentioned as ‘the golden hour' among crisis communication advisors. In this hour you don't know what is going on. The first priority is to get the truth on the table. After that the crisis teams can decide what information they want to bring out. But the difficult question is, what information are you going to reveal and what not? Holding back important information in never wise, but a company has to think about the time of revealing this information. If you decide this, you will keep the control of the situation. In some situations an organization does not know if a situation is going to be a crisis. Most of the time these are small case, e.g. product related or financial situations. But in case of a nature disaster or a terroristic attack, the situation is a crisis immediately.

As already mentioned often in this script, be honest, even if you do not yet know the cause of the disaster. If an organization is not honest, the media will reveal the truth and this can have large image damage as an effect. People lose their faith in the organization. Experts sore by the truth, it is one of the rules of the job. It is called the ‘thunder-theory'. This theory says that an organization can better reveal bad news themselves to prevent reputation damage. When people do not get information, they will search for it themselves. The audience is not afraid to say something, therefore an organization has to be very alert. Especially for the government, honesty is crucial. Holding back important information enlarges the change of rumors and damages your credibility.

In this time of year, revealing information to the outside world is very easy. Not only the press looks for information, also random people. Maybe they are accidental on the spot. News spreads very easily through the internet or by mobile phones with cameras. People post information on the internet and manage to research a large audience. They spread the information through social media like Twitter, Hyves or videos on YouTube. These social media have a large impact on crisis communication. To use the example of the air plane crash of Turkish airlines: the first film was made by someone that was accidental on the spot. The film was broadcasted in the news. Another example is the crash of an F-16 jet-fighter a while ago. Five minutes after the crash the head of the communication department got a call for a reaction. An hour later there was a photo of the crashed jet- fighter on the internet.

The danger of the internet is that gossip also spreads and journalists take over this information whiteout hearing the other side of the story. For an organization it is necessary to monitor the information in the media. When they do this, they can adjust their strategy and prepare. The internet is not only a threat for an organization, also an opportunity to communicate wider. You can see what rumors are on the internet and the questions that people are coping with. The internet en social media change everything.

8.2 Conclusion

It is not smart to hold back information, but is that a reason for organization to be honest at all times? In the examples of crisis situations in this script, you can read that organizations make mistakes. Most of the time extern sources reveal these mistakes. Most organization do not hold back information, but they are not honest about mistakes that are made. A crisis is always very hectic and because of this, mistakes are made. Organizations give false information, but then it is important to think about what you are going to reveal. For example the amount of deadly victims during the crash of the airbus from Turkish Airlines. If you are not sure, be honest about it. Although I think it is extremely difficult to handle a crisis situation 100% correctly and I don't think this is possible. Not only they can reveal information, also other sources can reveal the information earlier that the crisis team. If this is the case, than the organization already has a problem. They will get negative publicity because they did not reveal this information. This can also indicate that an organization wanted to hold back the information, even if this was not the case. [24] But IF an organization holds back crucial information, we do not know the right answer to the main question...

9. Results & Reflection

9.1 Results

In chapter eight are the final conclusion about the subject: crisis communication. The most important results of the research assignment are below formulated point by point:

§ Effective communication starts with recognizing the receiver and adjusting the message to this receiver

§ When a crisis gets the first signs of attention from the media, the organization can take the direction into own hands by publication to the media.

§ Most important in a crisis situation is preparation, but also training.

§ The most important aspect of a crisis plan is structure and clear information. No long pieces of text.

§ The message that we give to the press is extremely important. Not only correct answers to questions, but also body language.

§ Do not lie to a journalist, be honest because otherwise it can have negative consequences.

§ A lot of mistakes have already been made in crisis situations, learn from these mistakes.

§ Holding back important information enlarges the change of rumors and damages your credibility.

§ Social media like Twitter, Hyves and YouTube have a large impact on crisis communication.

§ And final: Do not hold back information because it will come out eventually!!

9.2 Reflection

The self study assignment was a good exercise for my English, especially for my vocabulary because I learned new words and also for my grammar use. In my opinion it was a good assignment because I had to read a lot of information and formulate this into my own English. Everyone could decide for themselves which subject they wanted to use for the assignment. The subject that I chose was interesting because it is related to my major. I think this is also good for the quality of the script.

I achieved my targets because I wanted to give a complete answer to the question that I formulated and all the important information is in the script. Difficult was selecting the subjects and creating structure because I thought that a lot of information was important. The summary was the last part of the script. This was also a little bit difficult because I had to summarize the most important information in one page. I am satisfied with the final results and I hope that it is interesting for others to read.

10. Literature list



2. Literature book: Public Relations

3. crisiscommunicatie/

4. Literature book: Public Relations

5. Literature book: Public Relations

6. Reader: ‘Handling the press'

7. Reader: ‘Handling the press'


9. deads.html















24. Remaining websites


Literature book:

Public Relations, the communication of organizations, Jan Masterbroek, Margreet van Persie, Guido Rijnja, Bart de Vries, 5th press, 2004. ISBN: 90 14 07923 0 The media book, how do you get in the media, Jochum de Graaf, Stephan Steinmetz, 2006. ISBN: 90 8506 082 6 Reader: ‘Handling the press', course book, Fontys Hogeschool Communication, N1 2006, year 2.

11. Appendix

11.1 Planning and logbook



Starting date


Estimated Workload (hours)

Actual Workload (hours)


Making Project Plan






First draft
























Internet search






Literature search






Search for visual aids






Definition of research question…






Select subjects






Select information for each subject and create structure






Write information about every subject






Revision and rewrite





Add visualization






Final things to do





Final touch of the script





Preparation for the final conversation





[2] Literature book: Public Relations, the communication of organizations, Jan Masterbroek, Margreet van Persie, Guido Rijnja, Bart de Vries, 5th press, 2004.


[4] Literature book: Public Relations, the communication of organizations, Jan Masterbroek, Margreet van Persie, Guido Rijnja, Bart de Vries, 5th press, 2004.

[5] Literature book: Public Relations, the communication of organizations, Jan Masterbroek, Margreet van Persie, Guido Rijnja, Bart de Vries, 5th press, 2004.

[6] Reader: ‘Handling the press', course book, Fontys Hogeschool Communication, N1 2006, year 2.

[7] Reader: ‘Handling the press', course book, Fontys Hogeschool Communication, N1 2006, year 2.











[18] http://www.villamedi