Guest post: Crisis communications and public relations by Meghan Murphy

The viral YouTube video of Domino’s employees in 2009, the BP oil spill of 2010, and the more recent Costa Concordia cruise ship accident (shown above with a link to a great article on predicted ramifications from the accident) can each be easily remembered by many, especially by public relations professionals. With crises such as these (and more) occurring every year, it has never been more important for public relations professionals to keep up with innovative tools and trends in the field. Being knowledgeable of new practices and strategies contributes to a better understanding of the field and helps improve the quality of our public relations activities. There are a number of resources professionals can rely on in order to stay up to date with new tools and trends, including MarketingWeek (for example, the article “Brands can’t afford to #fail when it comes to social media crisis comms”).

The area of crisis communications is extremely intriguing to me. Crises can occur at any given time and we (public relations professionals) need to be fully prepared for that moment. In my personal research of the specialization, I have found that there are a plethora of opportunities for crisis communicators to teach companies and organizations about the best practices during a time of crisis. It is more astounding to me that, while some companies or organizations have mastered the art of public relations in times of calm, they fail miserably at communicating with the public during times of chaos.

Graduate students of public relations, such as me, have the unique opportunity to continually expand the knowledge base and skill set that we have already acquired. We also have the chance to apply these skills and knowledge to real life practice. Personally, I intend to learn as much as I possibly can about crisis communications, then move forward and begin applying it in my future career. Check out my blog to track my exploration of the world of crisis communications and public relations.

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