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The need to teach effective Crisis Communication Management Skills in college

www.thehindu.com | November 19, 2023

Crisis communication is the art of effectively responding to unexpected events that can damage an organisation’s reputation. These crises can range from product recalls and financial scandals to public relations disasters or natural disasters. In today’s digital and VUCA age, where information spreads rapidly across various platforms, the consequences of inadequate crisis communication can be severe and long-lasting. Thus, crisis communication and reputation management skills have become essential for students to hone. Here are some practical steps they can take:

Stay informed:

Being up-to-date with industry trends and developments will enable students to respond quickly to market shifts and adapt the communication strategies accordingly. Knowledge of current events, social media trends, and news pertaining to their field of study and interests is important in keeping them informed and anticipating a positive mechanism for potential crisis management.

Empathy and understanding:

As future entrepreneurs, students should understand stakeholders' emotions and concerns. Being empathetic helps establish a connection with those impacted and reassure them that their well-being is a priority. Showing genuine concern and support can significantly influence how the organisation is perceived during turbulent times.

Embracing transparency:

In times of crisis, honesty and transparency are paramount as they help one come up with the best solution to manage the issue at hand. Therefore, students must learn to avoid hiding facts or divulging misleading information, as it can escalate the situation while eroding trust further. Instead, the right approach is to take responsibility for the situation and work on providing clear steps to address the issue. For example, in 2015, it was revealed that a renowned car brand had installed deceptive software in its diesel vehicles to manipulate emission tests. In addition, the initial lack of transparency worsened the crisis. The company’s eventual admission of guilt and implementation of corrective measures came too late and led to massive recalls, regulatory penalties, legal actions, and a significant blow to its brand credibility and customer trust.

Case studies:

Studying past crisis communication cases to understand what worked and what didn’t can help students equip themselves with strategies and also develop creative thinking skills that are imperative to analyse successful responses and the reason behind an effective strategy.

Communication skills:

Effective crisis communication demands clarity, brevity, and the ability to convey complex information concisely. Participating in public speaking events, debate clubs and engaging in writing exercises can help students master the art of effective communication.

Create crisis communication plans:

Engaging in hypothetical crisis scenarios and crafting communication plans to address them allows students to practise responding swiftly and decisively when confronted with real-life issues. This helps them navigate challenging situations effectively while safeguarding the organisation's reputation.

The idea is not to avoid crisis altogether but to deal effectively with unexpected and potentially overwhelming events that disrupt normalcy. This involves making informed decisions, taking prompt action, and maintaining a sense of control even amid chaos. This can be achieved when students build the capacity to respond and recover from it efficiently. Helping them build these skills during their academic journey equips them for a successful professional life.

This article has been authored by Prof. Preetha Menon, Faculty of Advertising and Branding, FLAME University.

(Source:- https://www.thehindu.com/education/the-need-to-teach-effective-crisis-communication-management-skills-in-college/article67524421.ece )