CHAPTER 11

Crisis Basics: “Topic A Bad News” and the CCO

How do you know when your enterprise is in a crisis? We put that question to a veteran corporate communicator who lectured in our Georgetown University class on crisis communication. Steve Harris (2010), who had served as CCO of General Motors, cut to the chase. His answer was, “When one negative situation is topic ‘A’ bad news at the top of the organization.”

In the first class of the Georgetown crisis course, we engage our students in developing a working definition of corporate crisis that can be tested and applied to the case studies we examine during the semester. In the spring 2013 semester, the students arrived at this definition: “A corporate crisis is an event or condition that ...

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