CAS 833: Crisis Communication

Course Description

This course provides skills and strategies to communicate crisis experienced by organizations and institutions through optimal media formats. Topics learned in the course include organizational crisis that could derive from incidents related to natural disasters, accidents, intentionally provoked incidents, human errors and unforeseen conditions. These areas increasingly demand more knowledge and skills to present adequate and proper information to the public and stakeholders – especially in dealing with crisis, risk, prevention and response.  

The course will focus on both domestic and international causes that could affect the normal operation of an organization. Crises are the result of events that, because of their nature, cause serious disruptions on the normal conditions of living of people and organizations. The causes may not necessarily emerge from predictable conditions, but from events that are political, economic or social in nature. As we analyze these causes in the United States, they can be as obvious as immigration, water contamination, poverty or discrimination.

Also, this course will provide the tools to manage effectively the use and the relationship with the media. The media (traditional or social) plays a crucial role in crisis situations as the vehicle to pass information to affected communities and people. Information in crisis conditions requires an appropriate strategy of timing, content, sequence and “points” to disseminate.

A very special feature of this course is that ALL examples are real case studies to be explored at two levels: events that already happened and serve as baseline data that is useful for similar future situations; and real events that certainly will happen during class. Events already experienced in the U.S. include: the Orlando and San Bernardino attacks, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Boston Marathon Bombings, the Zika and Ebola viruses. International events include: the recent attacks in Istanbul and Brussels airports, Paris attacks, the Japan earthquake and tsunami; and the the recent political turmoil caused by Brexit.

Learning Objectives

The course will provide you with the tools to:

  • Understand the different macro and micro conditions of a crisis
  • Recognize the models of potential impacts on organizations
  • Learn how to use past experiences to plan a response
  • Understand the initial negative impacts on organizational image
  • Define an initial and continuing communication plan
  • Understand the different roles of the media – traditional and social
  • Develop scenarios for different responses of communication
  • Learn how journalists and reporters think and work
  • Establish positive relationships with the news media

Areas of expertise

Shawn has hosted a variety of informational webinars on current topics. From crisis communication to misinformation, Shawn's hour-long webinars give practical tips for communicators to employ immediately. Browse his webinars and then download the accompanying resource PDF.