PRSM107 Crisis Communication General


I started this topic so students of PRSM107 Crisis Communication can share their activities, react to the content and the links provided, discuss related themes and share articles, videos and podcasts about the subject. With this in mind, I will make separate posts, like “PRSM107 Crisis Communication Activities” and so on and so forth.


Hi @Johan70, thanks for taking the initiative to create a topic for this course! For now, It would probably be best to have one thread for discussion of this course, and we can spin off more if/when they become necessary (using the neat “reply as linked topic” feature of Discourse). I am going to close the other threads, for now, since as the discussion grows we can always start more!



Read Section 2 of Chapter 6 on pages 228–236 should be: 270-272
(AACSB) Analysis is not found at 236 and 237 but at page 273




[I’ll post my activities here, because I can’t post Linked Topics for 22 hours after my attempts to bring some structure in this chaos are undermined.]

Exercise 2 (AACSB) Analysis on pages 273

(AACSB) Analysis
If you were the CEO of a large organization, what core values would you want to guide the behavior of your employees? First, assume that you oversee a large company that manufactures and sells medical devices, such as pacemakers, defibrillators, and insulin pumps. Your company was a pioneer in bringing these products to the market. Identify six core values that you would want to guide the behavior of your employees. For each core value, be sure to do the following:
Indicate why it’s important to the functioning of the organization.
Explain how you’ll communicate it to your employees and encourage them to embrace it.
Outline the approaches that you’ll take in holding employees accountable for embracing it.
1 Solving Problems of Society. This is the reason this company exists. Making money, providing jobs and room for (personal and corporate) growth et cetera are important for the organization but of less importance.
2 Continuous Improvement. This is a key value for the innovation driven strategy this company needs.
3 Teamwork. Learning, growing and developing is a cooperative process. Sharing success (and failures) is crucial.
4 Accountability. This is an important aspect of working in teams and especially with empowerment of employees (a greater responsibility comes with increased accountability).
5 Accuracy. An almost scientific scrutiny is required to make it possible to have others stand on our shoulders.
6 Integrity. This goes without saying, but should be stressed just because of that. Otherwise it might turn into a pitfall.
7 These core values will be communicated in the recruiting process, people have to sign to adhere to these values, and they will be integrated in regular meetings and workshops and in all internal and external communications.
8 This way we know the employees know the company values. If they adopt these values from the beginning, they will become the evangelists of our company we want them to be.
9 These core values will be leading in planning, development and evaluation processes of our company. In this way employees not only know the values, but also practice them. In these processes, they will be held accountable for living up to our values.
Now, repeat the process. This time, however, assume that you’re the CEO of a company that rents movies and games at more than eight thousand outlets across the country.
1 Efficiency. Because of the many outlets, the information and logistical systems should be nearly perfect.
2 Enjoyment/fun. To give joy to people is an important value to be communicated to customers and to employees.
3 Security. Because there are a lot of clients, it is important to guard their identities and the information about their shopping behavior.
4 Responsibility. Some of the movies and games are not fitted for young people or are offensive to people with certain convictions. So managing this value is very important to keep customers satisfied.
5 Competency. It is important to advise the right kind of movie or game when asked, so education of the employees is very important.
6 Service. Service should be natural for employees, but it is always good to stress the importance of this value.
7 These core values will be communicated in the recruiting process, people have to sign to adhere to these values, and they will be trained to fit these job requirements.
8 This way we know the employees know the company values. If they adopt these values from the beginning, they will become the evangelists of our company we want them to be.
9 These core values will be leading in planning, development and evaluation processes of our company. In this way employees not only know the values, but also practice them. In these processes, they will be held accountable for living up to our values.



“Using a company you are familiar with, develop a strategic plan as described in the Exploring Business text in this subunit.” This text is found at page 264.


2.1 Exercise, Develop a strategic plan

  1. Using a company you are familiar with, develop a strategic plan as described in the Exploring Business text in this subunit. Use the bulleted list under the “Develop a Strategic Plan” section as a check list for the items you should include in your plan: a mission statement, core values, SWOT analysis, goals and objectives, and tactical and operational plans.
    Developing a Strategic Plan (page 264)
    Coming up with an idea say, starting a note taking business is a good start, but it’s only a start. Planning for it is a step forward. Planning begins at the highest level and works its way down through the organization. Step one is usually called strategic planning , which is the process of establishing an overall course of action. To begin this process, you should ask yourself a couple of very basic questions: Why, for example, does the organization exist? What value does it create? Sam Walton posed these questions in the process of founding Wal Mart: his new chain of stores would exist to offer customers the lowest prices with the best possible service.
    After you’ve identified the purpose of your company, you’re ready to take the remaining steps in the strategic planning process: Write a mission statement that tells customers, employees, and others why your organization exists. Identify core values or beliefs that will guide the behavior of members of the organization. Assess the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Establish goals and objectives, or performance targets, to direct all the activities that you’ll perform to achieve your mission. Develop and Implement tactical and operational plans to achieve goals and objectives
    MS: The company exists to provide the same cheap food to everyone regardless of culture, language or climate.
    CV1: Efficiency. Because it’s a concept restaurant that provides the same menu everywhere in the world, the logistic process and the management of each restaurant should be done via explicit rules and regulations.
    CV2: Service. Service should be natural for employees, but it is always good to stress the importance.
    CV3: Enjoyment/fun. To give joy to people is an important value to be communicated to customers and to employees.
    S: Fast service, Low Prices
    W: Predictability of food and experience. Not the authentic experience many people search for.
    O: Use better quality of products used, focus at niche markets like vegans and people who have specific diets.
    T: Dependent at local suppliers (think of strikes, disasters, heavy weather et cetera).
    O: To dominate one third of the fast food market in the US and Europe.
    PT: To have at least one restaurant in every city with 100.000 inhabitants worldwide.
    SP: Identify the cities, research the existing market and decide on a mid term and a long term strategy to implement.
    TP: Starting with a regular marketing campaign to create demand, promote the store, offer free food for first time clients and participate in local initiatives for sustainable development.

  2. Develop a strategic plan for a public relations consulting company. The company will have two full-time employees, a business manager and a PR director, and three consultants including an advertising specialist, a marketing specialist, and a social media specialist. Your target audience is small business start-ups at three local community colleges within a 75-mile radius of your location. You plan to offer one-stop integrating marketing for your clients.
    MS: We help your company grow and prosper by telling your story the most effective way.
    CV1: When communication is king, cooperation is queen (c.)
    CV2: We take care of your business communication, as if it were our own.
    S: One-stop integrated marketing-communication solution.
    W: Because we employ different specialist, the cost are relatively high for starters unless the volume of clients gets big enough to work with smaller margins.
    O: Cooperation with the colleges provides a constant stream of start-ups of different kinds.
    T: The technology for (online) marketing gets cheaper every day, there are also getting more and better open source alternatives for software. So the added value will in the long term not be in technology, but in knowledge, experience, creativity, specific skills and networks.
    O: To have a third of the start-ups of the three colleges within a 75-mile radius as a client.
    PT: In every college, we want 80 percent of the graduates to know our brand, 60 percent to know who we are and what we can offer them and 30 percent to seriously consider becoming our client.
    SP: Identify the teachers, the classes, the projects et cetera involved and research the existing market and decide on a mid term and a long term strategy to implement.
    TP: Establish contacts with the colleges via the teachers. Maybe participate in projects/classes. Develop customized products and services in cooperation with students of these three colleges.


Exercise 2.5

Instructions: Read Section 4 of Chapter 17 to refresh your understanding of the importance of always adequately preparing for news media encounters regardless of the format and whether you are communicating during a crisis situation or non-crisis situation.

After reading about press conferences, complete the exercise at the end of the section. For this exercise, you will select one scenario based on your birth month. Then, you will write a prepared statement that responds to at least five questions related to who, what, when, where, how, and why regarding the scenario. Post your written response to the PRSM107 Discussion Forum as well as review and respond to one or two other students’ posts.

Reading this section, completing the exercise, and responding on the course discussion forum should take approximately 1 hour.

  1. September—Headache Pills, Inc.
    A person in New York died of cyanide poisoning, supposedly after taking a 200-mg Headache Pill made by your company. Your headache pills come in sealed, tamper-resistant packaging with child-proof protective caps. Some stores are voluntarily taking your product off the market. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced an investigation, and the family of the person who died has threatened to sue. You represent Headache Pills, Inc.


At Headache Pills, Inc. we were shocked when we heard of the tragedy that took place in New York. Are thoughts are with the family of the diseased.
We have started an internal investigation into this matter. Our investigators will fully cooperate with ongoing research, like that of the US Food and Drug Administration.
Our packages of Headache Pills come in sealed, tamper-resistant packaging with child-proof protective caps. That is why the chances of people tempering with them are believed to be very small.
But we want to be absolutely sure. Therefore, we hereby announce a product recall for all our packages of Headache Pills, including those of 200 mg.
People who have packages in their possession are advised to bring them to the nearest medical post for professional destruction.
We will keep the public informed on a regular basis ia a special page at our website ( The information at this page is also shared via our social media. Also a special phone number (123456789) has been opened. It is manned 24/7 the first week from now on.
We keep the media informed via press releases and press conferences.


Unit 2 Activity [the names used in this course do cause some confusion]

Unit 2 activity

Instructions: After reviewing the course materials in this unit, consider the following questions. Post your written response to the PRSM107 Course Discussion Forum. Make sure to review and respond to at least one or two other students’ posts.

  1. Describe a real-world situation that may lead to a crisis that needs to be managed. What is the situation? How did you anticipate this as leading to a crisis? What might you do to plan to resolve or evade the crisis?
    The situation: a fire destroys a shipyard nearby the center of a small town in the South of the Netherlands. In one of the buildings a lot asbestos has been used for isolation and fire protection. The fire cannot be stopped and the asbestos is released in the air. The wind is blowing humps and a lot of particles of asbestos in the direction of the city center. It is 23.00 hours, it is a normal day and most of the city is quiet.
    At approximately 01.00 hours the regime in the city center is to close all windows and doors and to stay inside because of the fallout. The rest of the city is not informed. The regional tv-station, that should act as emergency channel, doesn’t give any information. A local tv-station provides some information. At Twitter the news about the fire and the asbestos is shared with a larger audience early in the night. Most people probably don’t know what has happened until the early morning of the next day.
    Anticipation: Emergency plans for different kinds of crises are available. Scenarios of the water of the nearby river rising and flooding parts of the city and for instance a chemical leakage from a nearby plant. But there was no scenario for this kind of crisis. That proves that every crisis is different and al the plans and training can’t prevent a crisis, but are important nevertheless, because these save precious time.
  2. Consider your role in crisis management. What type of plans would you have in place to respond and handle news media inquiries? What key messages would you have prepared for your spokesperson? How would you distribute this information to your various audiences?
    There is a regional crisis command center, where efforts of the city council, the fire department, the police and environmental agencies are coordinated. But the communication efforts did not look very professional in the hours that followed, when we look at accuracy, speed, the understanding of irrational fears many people have about asbestos, the way messages are communicated and the content of some of the messages (consistency).
    The idea that a region tv-station can be the emergency channel is not outdated, but from technical perspective rather limited in this age of internet and mobile telephony. I would have prepared automated message services for future use (e-mail, push SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter). I also would have prepared a single easy to find webpage where the centralized communication with the public would take place.
    (This page did show up the next day, but it was not easy to find (it was stacked away at the website of the city council) and people did not know where to look for more information. The provided information was static, so people at Twitter started sharing their own news and incorporating that in (more useful) maps of the affected region.)
    The next day, it turned out that the most hit area was sealed off, but the borders were hardly guided, so people were seen on national tv entering the territory without protective clothing, denying the danger of inhaling asbestos particles (asbestos is known to produce really nasty kinds of cancer). It rained for hours, so most of the asbestos was probably coming down at that moment. Also a few shopkeepers ignored the rules and opened their shops inside the territory, obviously out of fear to lose business (it was just before Christmas).
    Looking back, with the knowledge of now, I would have better regulated the people going in and out, right from the beginning. Also there should have been a constant flow of messages about the situation. Some could have been partly prepared in advance. I should have drafted a text like this one for a press conference in the morning:
    “At a large fire at a shipyard in our city last night there has been a potentially dangerous release of asbestos in the air. Asbestos is known to lead to cancer when inhaled in large quantities. The exact amount of asbestos released is measured right now. The area of asbestos fallout is shown in the graphic here. This is the most recent estimate. To prevent casualties the area where the fallout of asbestos is happening, is sealed off, except for emergency services. The police guards entrance to the area. People who are in the territory should close all windows and doors and remain inside until further notice. The fire at the shipyard is under control and environmental teams are preparing right now to professionally remove the asbestos from the streets, the parks, the squares et cetera. We expect the inconvenience to last at least eight hours. The public will be informed at a regular basis via the website The website, and its linked social media, serve as the base communication channel. In addition, there will be communication directed at the media. We hope representatives of the local, regional and nation media will help us communicate important messages when needed. The safety of the people in the area has key priority. Furthermore, a special phone line has been opened, 123456789, for people in the city who want more information, for instance about prevention, food & drinks and special needs. The text of this press release, the graphic shown and relevant contact information for the media is provided when this press conference is finished.”

Completing this activity and posting to the discussion forum should take approximately 3 hours.


2 Assessment, links

The links provided in the pdf “PRSM107-Unit-2-Teamwork-and-Collaboration-during-a-Crisis-FINAL” don’t work.

For the deeplink named “” go here:

Here you find the answers to complete this assessment, otherwise it will be hard to figure them out because today there is a lot of information available, for instance at Wikipedia: .

The report “Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling” you can find here:

I’ve read the introduction, but would recommend that you also read chapter 1. Not only because it is very well written, it actually reads like part of a novel, but it gives you a better understanding of what happens in crisis situations like these, I think.



“Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Chapter 16, Section 4: Current Trends in Electronic Media”

Again, the link doesn’t work.

You can find the book here:

Chapter 16, section 4, starts at page 736.



“Reading: Exploring Business: “Chapter 9, Section 6: Interacting with Your Customers”. This section starts at page 489.

“Study the “Social Media Marketing” section on pages 424–428”. This text is found at page 491 in the chapter just mentioned.

”Also, complete exercise 2 on pages 429 and 430.” This exercise is found at pages 497 and 498.



“Web Media: Conversationblog: “Video Interviews: Using Social Media for Crisis Communications”

The provided link does not work. You can find the videos here:



“Reading: Conversationblog: “Crisis Communications Planning and Wikis”
Link: Conversationblog: “Crisis Communications Planning and Wikis” (HTML)”

Old site is gone. Could not find the link at the new site. You’ve found it? Post it please, and help others.

These are some Wiki pages that might be of interest: (not Wiki, but worthwile of your precious time)



“Reading: Business Communication for Success: “Chapter 17, Section 3: Crisis Communication Plan” Link: Business Communication for Success: “Chapter 17, Section 3 Crisis Communication Plan” (HTML)

Instructions: Read Section 3 of Chapter 17 to learn about what type of information to include when developing a CCP. This reading includes a checklist for designing an effective crisis communication plan and reviews the characteristics of a crisis communication team. Answer the questions for exercises 2 and 5. Post your response to the PRSM107 Discussion Forum, and review as well as respond to one or two other students’ posts.”

Exercise 2

“When people don’t know what to do in a crisis situation, what happens? How can you address probable challenges before the crisis occurs? Discuss your ideas with classmates.”

Useful knowledge and an effective spread of relevant information is important to minimize risk. When this is not taken care of, by training, plans, teams and clear routing before a crisis (including to a safe area and an emergency control room), there will be extra costs, probably unnecessary casualties and, because of that, a larger damage to the reputation.

Exercise 5

“Do you always have to be on guard with members of the media? Why or why not? Explain your answer to the class as if they were members of the media.”

As a company, you should be good and tell about is. Don’t be bad, and talk good about it. What reputation is for you, is the truth for them. If you understand how the media work, their methods, deadlines and philosophy, there is also no need to fear “members of the media” as if they are hungry zombies coming after you. You have to accept that they exist, that they have a significant role in society and that they try to do their job in the best possible way. You will probably gain a lot by being open, clear and professional. Try to respect members of the media, and they will try to respect you. Tell them why you don’t have that info yet, and when you can share that information. In a crisis, if they know their responsibility - in a crisis disinformation and creating social unrest through sensational reporting often leads to many extra casualties, pillaging et cetera - they will probably be more cooperative. If they think your story stinks, they will go out and dig till the real story comes up and it will make your organization look much worse. They’re not bad people, we are in the same ballgame, but they are the other team and they play differently.


There is no one size fits all when it comes to crisis communication plans (CCP). This is true whether you are designing a CCP for a government agency, nonprofit organization, or private company. However, there are some key elements that each CCP is expected to include in the broad terms of pre-crisis, crisis, and post-crisis actions. When spelled out in the CCP, you want to be sure to address pre-crisis preparations, safety, notifications of key staff, listing the crisis communication team (CCT), their functions and their contact information, situation assessments, developing key messages, media releases, and communication updates. There is always a need to address post-crisis actions such as evaluating how the CCT performed and lessons learned before starting the cycle again to prepare for the next crisis. In this unit, you will learn about the basic components of the crisis communication plan and how to develop a CCP in a digital format. Regardless of the format, the CCP should be coordinated among all participating agencies and organizations. It should be tested or practiced to see what works and what does not work so modifications can be made before you really need to use it.’



Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “PRSM107 Discussion Forum”
Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “PRSM107 Discussion Forum” (HTML)

Instructions: After reviewing the course materials in this subunit, consider the following prompt. Post your written response to this prompt on the PRSM107 discussion forum. Make sure to review and respond to at least oneor twoother students’ posts.

“Outline the media plan you would need if your technology business office headquarters that housed 1,500 employees was damaged during a natural disaster such as a hurricane. What considerations would you need to have planned and coordinated in advance to have an alternate media center or location for media to gather while covering the news of the hurricane disaster damage to your office headquarters?”

I’ll go a little bit further in my answer. First: prepare a thorough crisis communication plan. Form a trained and well-balanced crisis response team. Identify channels of communication, groups of stake- and shareholders and needs for information. Formulate key messages that can be adapted to fit the real life situation. Locate a safe haven for the employees. The meeting place should for fire, flooding and hostage situations be outside at an easy recognizable open area, preferably with a shielding wall of earth on the side of the building. For hurricanes, if they are frequent visitors to the area where the headquarters is located, a covered meeting place should be made or found. For instance an underground parking for the employees that can also be used for this purpose. Also, locate a place (media center) where the crisis response team can coordinate internal and external communication. This place should have it’s own emergency power generating set (solar/gas), must be able to stay connected to the Internet independent of the office headquarters (for running the black website and social media for the public and the media) and must be able to communicate via amateur radio & emergency services frequencies (digital & analog). (The latter in case all else goes wrong.) It should be near the area of the headquarters, but outside the territory where the building would fall if it collapses. If the underground parking is in place, it would be an option to locate the mediacenter in a shielded part of that building. With all that in place, regular not announced evacuations and crisis scenarios should be trained, as realistic as possible. Preferably with media involved, so the spokesperson (often the CEO) has to practice also and the mediacenter is being used.



The Saylor Foundation’s “Creating a Crisis Communication Plan”

Link: The
Saylor Foundation’s “Creating a Crisis Communication Plan” (PDF)

Instructions: This assessment provides you with a hypothetical scenario to use in creating a brief crisis communication
plan description. You should review the sample crisis communication plan in the subunit 4.2 reading, Business Communication for Success. With your hypothetical organization summary, you should be able to address the four key elements of a crisis communication plan in one to two pages. Once you have completed the assessment, check your answers against The Saylor Foundation’s “Answer Key to Creating a Crisis Communication Plan.”

Brief Crisis Communication Plan Description

  1. Crisis communication team members with contact information (names, functions, specialties, mobile number, business e-mail, private e-mail, physical address). The list includes:

  2. Chief
    executive officer (CEO)

  3. Chief financial officer (CFO)

  4. Vice president for operations

  5. Vice president for communications

  6. Public relations director (“me”)

  7. Company attorney

  8. Human resources director

  9. Information technology director

  10. Headquarters building manager

  11. Bank officials in the building

  12. City officials (police chief, fire chief, etc.)

  13. Designated spokesperson

The PR director is chosen to be the spokesperson. He/she will know the mission, vision and corporate culture inside out, know the crisis communication plan, the persons involved and must be up to date with the latest information and be able to choose how to weigh this information and what to do with it. Furthermore, he/she must me capable of performing in front of cameras in uncertain circumstances and all the time appear confident, calm, emphatic and – above all – trustworthy.

  1. Meeting place/location

The alternate head quarters will be used as a meeting place where the press will be welcomed and informed at a regular basis. This is also the place where the crisis communications team is at work to communicate via website and social media with the public and of course with our partners, clients and other relations.

  1. Media plan with procedures

The media plan makes it cleat that the (office of the) PR director is the central spokesperson. All relevant contact information is provided to old and new media. The communication bulletins will be updated regularly by the central spokesperson and/of his/her PR assistants. (With crises that last longer then one day, the central spokesperson better get some sleep to stay fresh and sharp.) In the media plan also the main journalistic questions are anticipated via model answers (who, what, how, where and why?). These are updated when new verified information comes up. Also responses have been prepared for additional questions, for instance about the estimated costs (because of destruction, loss of business), the cooperation with the bank before and during this crisis (not mentioned in the model answer, but important) and possible environmental damage (also not mentioned in the model answers, but also important for stakeholders in vicinity, it think). Prepared messages, to be combined with facts, should be, amongst others: the safety of our people is very important to us; the families of our employees will be offered assistance; successful evacuation was possible because of our proactive program for crisis management and damage control; the alternate headquarters is now fully operational; we manage all communications from here, directed at the press, and the public, but also at our relations, so there is minimum inconvenience for them.


5.1 Reading: Mastering Public Relations: “Chapter 1: The Importance of Public Relations: UPS Case”

The provided link does not work. Here you can find the chapter mentioned:

Download the complete book for free via this direct link.


5.1 Exercise

Reading: Chris Mills’s “Developing Strategic Communications”

Link: Chris Mills’s “Developing Strategic Communications” (HTML)

Read this article, which focuses on messages for marketing and highlights how to develop messages to achieve internal and external organizational goals.

After reading this article, practice writing three key messages about your favorite organization. Post your messages to the PRSM107 Discussion Forum, and review as well as respond to one or two other students’ posts. As you respond to other students, consider which message is the most effective, and why.

Three of my suggestions for McDonalds (copyrighted of course):

“Cheap food for all”
“The quality you expect”
“For life in the fast lane”