Communicating in a crisis

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Hurricane Harvey caused devastation in Puerto Rico in August 2017. (Tarlow, 2017). The exclamation from the president was “Wow!” “When he saw expert comments claiming that the tragedy was “1 out of 500 floods.” “In addition, when speaking through the crisis, the president said that he would “drain the swamp”. This did not impress the citizens of the city. During the ordeal, the region’s administrator, Ricardo Rosello, also had his crisis leadership skills put to use (Tarlow, 2017). Crisis communication refers to what is supposed to protect a person, agency, or business that faces reputational issues. It is a countering or preventing stakeholders’ negative expectations or perceptions after the occurrence of a crisis. Poor communication during crises can result in the entity or person having bad image hence tainting the party’s image.

Should Have Good Public Relation People

One of the most important aspects of effective communication during a crisis is; always have good public relations with people (Coombs, 2010). This can be a single spokesperson to a crisis management team. A perfect team can help around the situation, display appropriate messages to stakeholders and even turn the whole scenario into an advantage to them. This is only seen when innovative and experienced professionals who clearly understand using diverse forms of mediums as well as exhibiting capabilities of crafting persuasive messages (Coombs, 2010). This public relations team should also must also display swiftness or speed while relaying message to the public while the crisis issue is still contentious. At times, the public relations people paint the company or individual as positive, a strategic move to overshadow the current crisis state (Coombs, 2010).

Not all circumstances call for legal action or quick coercive reaction. Some politicians use ineffective means to thwart crises. As much as some other methods may be used, communication comes first to set the pace of public emotions. For example, during the September 11 attacks, before the president retaliated on the terrorists using force, he first had to address the public to cool down their emotions and assure them the states would be safe. He was careful on every word he uttered as there was tension during the highly emotive moment. As such, he had to seek advice from his public relations team, a factor which made the crisis communication a success.

Developing Partner Relationships before an Event

Fearn-Banks (2016) says that prior partner relation is also important factor during communications in crisis. Examples are the emergency authorities, health authorities, fire personnel and the police. During crisis, a party can agree with partner groups on what information to communicate to the public. An example lies in the case of Hurricane Harvey. A politician might want to issue a statement on how many people died from the misfortune. They must form good relations with partners like the police in order to issue accurate crisis information to the public.

Traits in a Good Crisis Communicator

They should be punctual. Delivering information to all the concerned in time assists in avoiding grapevine (Coombs, 2010). Rumors are bad because bad people can use to pin one down. As such, during crises, one should come out and ensure they are the first to communicate. For example, politicians in Puerto Rico should have been the first to speak during Hurricane Harvey.

During an emergency, I would like to see my politician come out and speak about the emergency. I would not expect anyone to speak before him because with all the respect I accord him, I would expect him to be the first to know everything. If someone else can come out before him, my thinking of him can become negative.

They should also be confident. This is a trait of a good communicator. Emergency places need confident people (Coombs, 2010). There are always many newsmen talking with the speaker. Therefore, those who do not have confidence can be shy. This would make them have a bad image.

I would want to hear consistent information during emergency situations. I would be sad to hear contradicting information. In the presence of media, speakers who are shy can give unexpected information by mistake.

The Role of Social Media

Social media has become a tool widely used globally (Lipschultz, 2017). In emergency cases the social media takes many roles like that of communicating to people. Police can use social media to identify emergency. In communicating during crisis, social media enables one to reach out to more people. A good example is San Francisco. The officials here use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to relay information of emergency preparedness (Lipschultz, 2017). As such, social media creates awareness to all stakeholders before and after emergency.


Communicating during a crisis is good. For it to be effective, the speaker must have good public relation people, and develop partner relationships before. In addition, they have to be punctual and also confident to be efficient. Therefore, social media has come a long way in helping in emergency preparedness. Moreover, the popular forum helps in communication during crisis.


Coombs, W. T. (2010). Parameters for crisis communication. In W. T. Coombs & S. J. Holladay (Eds.), The handbook of crisis communication, (pp. 17-53). Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Fearn-Banks, K. (2016). Crisis communications: A casebook approach. New York: Routledge.

Lipschultz, J. H. (2017). Social media communication: Concepts, practices, data, law and ethics. Abingdon: Taylor & Francis.

Tarlow, P. (2017). Misconceptions regarding hurricane Harvey. International Journal of Safety and Security in Tourism/Hospitality. Retrieved from

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