5Public Concern: Listen to and Acknowledge Concerns of Publics

To be open and to create effective partnerships, an organization experiencing or managing a risk or crisis must listen to the concerns of its publics, take these concerns into account, and respond accordingly. Whether accurate or not, the perception of publics is their reality. If publics believe a risk exists, they can be expected to act according to that belief. If they believe a crisis is severe, acknowledging and responding to this belief are essential. For example, accusations of restaurants causing food poisoning can be posted by customers and widely viewed on social media outlets such as Twitter or Facebook or on well‐trafficked Internet sites such as iwaspoisoned.com (Arnold, 2017). In some cases, these posts are highly accurate. In fact, some state health agencies monitor Twitter posts or online searches related to food poisoning to identify emerging outbreaks. In many cases, however, restaurants are unfairly blamed by misinformed consumers who assume the cause of their digestive malady stems from their last meal or the last meal outside their own home. Consequently, restaurants may be unjustly accused of a problem they did not cause. The result can be a reputational crisis for the restaurant. In these cases, restaurants must provide a substantial response to an unsubstantiated but nevertheless potentially damaging accusation.

As this example clearly illustrates, simply telling publics they don't understand ...

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