2Process Approach: Take a Process Approach to Crisis Communication

When most people think of a crisis, they think of an explosion, fire, crash, or some other dramatic and damaging event with a definite beginning and a specific end. A crisis is really part of a much longer set of events and factors that occur over an extended period. What we think of as a crisis—the explosion, flood, or disease outbreak—is just one part of a larger process involving the interaction of many factors. Our first best practice suggests that a crisis should not be thought of as a single limited and contained event. Instead, we believe thinking of risks as ongoing issues with the continuous possibility that a particular risk might erupt and become a crisis is far more accurate. This approach also allows managers and public relations professionals to be much more effective in dealing with risks and crises. Because we are constantly surrounded by risks, there is always a chance an emergency or crisis can erupt around us. This does not mean we should constantly be afraid and should not take risks; it simply means we need to work to understand the evolving risks around us and be as prepared as possible.

In this section, we discuss the concept of process and we describe what we mean by a process approach to crisis communication. We also discuss the various stages and phases of a crisis and explore how these can be used to manage risks and crises. Crises generally develop according to patterns and understating ...

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