Dissemination of information during crisis situation should undergo specific approaches and techniques that would allow to face the problems and address the contingency. The success of crisis communication lies in timely informing various stakeholders involved into the problem that would promote decision-making and create new perspectives for crisis management (Coombs & Holladay, 2012).
With regard to the above-presented case, main groups and individuals engaged into the problem solving should relate to organization that control water supply mechanisms in the area, the government controlling public processes, the media that should warn the citizens about potential threats, and emergency management office itself.
While disseminating information, communication should provide managers and above-mentioned stakeholders with information about the seriousness of the problem to enhance situational awareness and provide solutions (Coombs & Holladay, 2012). However, to avoid panic, the managers should first emphasize the fact that they hold the situation under strict control and, if the community members follow the instructions they give, the crisis situation will soon be eliminated.
Including community members as important groups is highly crucial for avoiding difficulties. In particular, the emergency managers should first address the sector for preventing discontent and disorganized behavior that could even worsen the crisis situation. Therefore, proactive planning of crisis management should start with delivering decent messages to appropriate group, at an appropriate time, and place, and by appropriate media channels.
According to Lerbinger (2012), managers during crisis situation should communicate with the potential victims and families to “…reduce media interest and coverage while also building the trust of employees, the community, public, and regulatory officials” (p. 51). In this respect, the managers should be able to face risk and recognize all possible consequences of disseminating inappropriate information.
Potential Advantages and Challenges Associated with Communicating within the Organization and with the Public and Private Sectors
Crisis communication within the organization is incredible important because it affects their reputation. Crises, therefore, can distort the expectations with which stakeholders are concerned. Organization, therefore, should establish a strict policy according to which it should disseminate information for the sake of preserving good reputation.
Use of various communication media can significantly advance the respectable image of organization (Coombs & Holladay, 2012). Moreover, it can be the most efficient way of promoting information and improving the communication channels within the organization via such media means as the Internet and telephoning.
The main purpose of environmental crisis communication is to prevent the consequences of the disaster, as well as react immediately to the problem. What is more important is that the organization should choose the right channels of information dissemination to prevent panic in public and private sectors.
In this respect, the news releases and online videos are not appropriate for revealing in public because it does not always subject to censorship (Coombs & Holladay, 2012). In this respect, the contingency plan should ensure proper classification of the obtained information, which is the major challenge of crisis communication within the organization and with the public and private sectors.
According to Coombs and Holladay (2012), “…the goal of management and communication is to prevent harm to others and to be accountable – and therefore legitimate participants in a community” (p. 6). Such measures constitute a proactive challenge to understand, know, and identify the conditions leading to crisis.
Despite the potential threats to communication, the technological progress significantly contributes to improving the crisis situation and advancing contingency plan measures (Sellnow et al., 2010). The effectiveness of distributing information is ensured when the obtained data is accurate and incorporated for appropriate groups of population.
Therefore, awareness of techniques of how to frame and arrange events is one of the most advantageous strategies that an organization can employ while informing all the stakeholders.
Differences on Communication Processes: Lessons Learnt and Further Recommendations for Improving Health Care Communication Strategies
In the course of development of communication media, the organization also introduced changes to strategies of delivering messages. Such an approach incorporates the efforts of public relations department, financial officers, and management team that focuses on efficient decision making process within the contingency plan.
The means of delivering information should also be taken into consideration because they influence the overall outcomes of the contingency. In this respect, use of news releases is not quite appropriate in terms of efficient time management (Coombs and Holladay, 2012).
According Coombs and Holladay, organizational messages do not appear in time because of failure to present information to the news media center in a timely manner. What is more problematic is that news media often ignores organization’s response efforts. Instead, they focus more on the scales of the disaster to attract more potential stakeholders who are concerned with the crisis situation. As a result, “…organizations are failing to have their side of the story represented in the new media” (Coombs and Holladay, 2012, p. 34).
In contrast to news releases, as it has been used in case of the Three Mile Island nuclear in 1979, the crisis communication after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the New Orleans area relied more on the Internet to disseminate information. The letter, however, is much more effective in sharing facts about the event because it implies reaction of the public that can leave commentaries concerning the disaster (Coombs and Holladay, 2012).
Both the victims and the witnesses of the natural disaster had a possibility to express their attitude to the contingency, as well as suggest help. Unlike news releases, the Internet, particularly blogging provide wider opportunities for interaction and information sharing in a two-way direction.
Appropriate Technologies Affecting and Enhancing Communication
Although there few researches exploring the use of technologies during the crisis situations, there are studies proving that many organizations continue relying on traditional approaches of distributing information, including news releases (Coombs and Holladay, 2012).
The role of websites and blogging should not be underestimated as well because these two sources of reporting have become the most important for organizations. However, communication channels of information exchange should not be confined to these Internet methods, particularly when organizations have to face crises. In particular, such kinds of media as videos, web-posted documents, audio, and external sources can be used to widen the access of communication to all necessary information about the contingency.
In some cases, the emergence of a specific disaster or environmental problem can hasten the creation of new communication technologies that would improve information exchange. This is of particular concern to blogging that creates various channels for communication and impact. In other words, members of a specific community can blog addressing the organization, each other, and the media itself. In its turn, the organization can communicate similarly with the public and private sectors.
Technology Use in the Scenario Described
Because the crisis situation implies possible threats to human health, it is difficult to define the scale of environmental contaminations, a feedback system should be arranged to accept constantly updated loads of information about possible infections among the population.
In this fashion, the crisis communication becomes much more useful and productive because the emergence management organizations can predict immediately all possible routes of deployment of a life-threatening biological agent (Coombs and Holladay, 2012). Use of news releases is also important, but the manner of representing information should be taken under control.
In particular, the emergence managers should be more concerned with delivering information about precautious measures that should be taken to avoid all possible threats (White, 2011). For instance, they should let people know about medications that can prevent the possible infection, as well as describe in detail what consequences this substance can have for human organism.
In fact, advances in technology can introduce a great number of benefits to social media because it facilitates information transmittance via communication channels. In order to integrate technology successfully, the organization should work in cooperation with other target groups and concerned parties for achieving the goals in a timely manner (White, 2011).
Cooperation of groups can be promoted greatly through creation of virtual communities. With regard to the above presented benefits of using advanced technology, it should be stressed that using virtual space is advantageous because it allows to create a powerful communication network that would ensure information-driven mechanisms.
Management Opportunities during the Crisis Management
Efficient emergency management depends largely on successful cooperation with journalists and reporters. Apart from internal factors influencing crisis communication, considering external factors is important as well.
In this respect, a stronger connection between knowledge management and emergence management addressing the way individuals obtain and exchange knowledge within organization and outside it (White, 2012). Scientific management of critical situations places an emphasis on control and prediction. While evaluating the scenario, scientific knowledge is indispensible to define the most proactive an efficient measures to be taken to avert serious consequences.
While following the patterns of technology development and integration provides a solid ground for introducing new media initiatives for handling emergence situations. As people are more educated and informed, the virtual space has become beneficial for introducing feedback and reaction to crisis situations. Emergence managers should be more aware of new possibilities and approach by means of which they can influence both private and public records during water contamination.
According to Lerbinger (2012), “…public relations engage in the larger task of managing the communications and relationships with all stakeholder groups and with the media, both mass media and social media” (p. 20). Therefore, the main goal of emergency officers is to maintain symmetric relationships between emergency management organization and community suffering from the natural disaster.
The concept of corporate social responsibility is another prism through which crisis communication and management should be considered. In particular, social corporate managers should be concerned with educational and technological support of information sharing during contamination to be able to take control of the situation.
Emergent managers, therefore, should consider all the nuances of cooperating with victims of environmental contamination, as well as keep in touch with the laboratories examining the capacities of the biological agent contaminating water.
Coombs, T. W., & Holladay, S. J. (2012). The Handbook of Crisis Communication. US: John Wiley & Sons.
Lerbinger, O. (2012). The Crisis Manager: Facing Disasters, Conflicts, and Failures. New York: Routledge.
Sellnow, T.L., Seeger, M.W., and Ulmer, R. R. (2010). Effective Crisis Communications: Moving From Crisis to Opportunity. US: SAGE.
White, C. (2011). Social Media, Crisis Communication, and Emergency Management: Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies. US: CRC Press.