" (Kent & Taylor, 2002) Dialogue cannot be considered a guarantee of public relations outcomes that are ethical but does provide an orientation that is likely to increase a better understanding and "...grounded rules for communication." (Kent and Taylor, 2002)
The work of Chong (nd) states that the importance of crisis communication has emerged and specifically as related to public relations. Chong states that the study reported was conducted in order to disseminate the assigned importance and prevalence of crisis communication and was through the method of a review of literature relating to 'crisis communication'. In a study conducted by Chong, findings state that in a Business Source Premiere database with more than 1000 scholarly publications with 'crisis communication' used as the search phrase and data collected in five periods during the time between February and March 2006 that the following number of articles were located for each of the five period of time:
1981-1985: 2 articles
2001-2005: 73 (Chong, nd)
The results further state that the top subject items were 'crisis management ' (in all 5 periods) 'public relations' (in all but 1981-1985) and 'crisis communication'. Findings stated by Chong are that: (1) Crisis communication dominated by just a few writers and journals; (2) Case studies and 'expert opinion' are the preferred methods; (3) Rapid increase in scholarly interest in last 10 years; (4) Likely internationalization of research in the field; and (5) Potential for applying crisis communication theories to risk communication." (Chong, nd)
The work of Gand, Acquier, and Szpirglas entitled: "Understanding Organizational Processes: An Analytical Framework" conducts an investigation of crisis management in a public company in France. Using a combination of stakeholder management and a knowledge-based perspective" Gand, Acquier, and Szpirglas propose: "...an analytical framework of organizational crisis management processes." (2005) the theoretical framework in this work states in terms of stakeholder perspectives on crisis management that any group "that can affect or be affected by the achievement of organizational objectives" is a group of stakeholders according to the work of Freeman (1984). It is related that the: "...normative strand of the stakeholder theory" holds that "the interests of all stakeholders are of intrinsic value.." (Gand, Acquier, and Szpirglas, 2005) it is held in the work of Gand, Acquier, and Szpirglas (2005) that the "...descriptive standpoint of stakeholder theory" has been underrepresented in crisis management use of the stakeholder concept." (Gand, Acquier, and Szpirglas, 2005) a crisis is stated to be characterized " by an upheaval of previous ways of working." (Gand, Acquier, and Szpirglas,2005) the most important statement noted in the work of Gand, Acquier, and Szpirglas is that the organization must rely upon responses at each level in the organization and from each respective department to maintain coherent relations during a crisis.
Discussion & Conclusion
Crisis management has grown and evolved since public relations was first conceived in dealing with organizational and governmental crisis management and as well the theories relating to this specific form of management have experienced growth in knowledge and relevance. It is the opinion of this researcher that the specific area of communications in crisis management has never been more relevant than at the present time in the globalized society and business world. It will become increasingly necessary to manage all forms of communications during crisis management not only in order to disseminate information and enable stakeholders and others in the organizations in understanding information provided to them but in keeping a time of crisis from becoming one of utter chaos. Effective communication capabilities when developed and when existing at all levels of the organizations and among all stakeholders and other relevant agencies and actors enables a quick opening of the channels of communication in a time of crisis that are already collaborative, integrative and practiced in communication. As noted in the work of Kent and Taylor (2002) there is absolutely no way to prepare or plan for specific crisis related dialogue however the organization can prepare those within the organization to be open to dialogue.
Three kinds of dialogue are noted in the work of Kent and Taylor which are those of: (1) interpersonal; (2) mediated and organizational. While dialogue cannot be viewed as a panacea, it may serve as providing the orientation necessary for effective and productive dialogue to take place in the time of crisis. Public relation strategies used in the earlier years of public relations may not be effective at this time due to the diversity existing in the world's organizations. New and strategically suitable methods for coping during crisis management are required by today's public relations management.
Contemporary and knowledgeable public relations management realizes that all parts of the organization's whole will be optimally utilized during management of a crisis in order to provide integrated management of the crisis. The effective public relations manager will turn to those in the legal department and other departments throughout the organization through establishment of an ongoing dialogue which increases the likelihood that the manager will have the benefit of a multi-dimensional perspective during the time of the management of the crisis
Chong, M. (nd) Crisis communication through the years: A preliminary analysis of articles in the Business Source Premier database (1981-2005)
Coombs, T.W. (2004) Impact of Past Crises on Current Crisis Communication: Insights from Situational Crisis Communication Theory. Journal of Business Communication 2004, July.
Health, R.L. (2002) Handbook of Public Relations.
Hillsdale, NJ, 1989b, pp. 111-131.
How to Write a Brief for a Public Relations Consultant (nd) Australian Government - Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Government Communications Unit. Online available at http://www.gcu.gov.au/code/pdf/how_to/public_relations.pdf.
Kent, M.L. And Taylor, M. (2002) Toward a Dialogic Theory of Public Relations. Public Relations Review 28 (2002) 21-37.
Pohl, G.M. (nd) Teaching Public Relations in a Crisis: The Terrorist Attacks on the United States. Department of Communication Studies. University of Northern Iowa. Online available at http://www.hicsocial.org/Social2003Proceedings/Gayle%20M.%20Pohl.pdf.
R. Pearson, 1989a, op. cit.; R. Pearson, Business ethics as communication ethics: public relations practice and the idea of dialogue, in: C.H. Botan, V. Hazleton (Eds.), Public Relations Theory, Lawrence Erlbaum,
Schannon, Mark (2006) Issue Management: Trying to Create Rational Explanations in a Non-Rational World. The Journal…