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How the relationship between the crisis life cycle and mass media content can better inform crisis communication

Author(s): Gwyneth Howell | Dr Rohan Miller

Journal: PRism Online PR Journal
ISSN 1448-4404

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: public relations | crises | crisis life-cycle theoretical model | mass media

Crises are unpredictable events that can impact on an organisation’s viability, credibility, and reputation, and few topics have generated greater interest in communication over the past 15 years. This paper builds on early theory such as Fink (1986), and extends the crisis life-cycle theoretical model to enable a better understanding and prediction of the changes and trends of mass media coverage during crises. This expanded model provides a framework to identify and understand the dynamic and multi-dimensional set of relationships that occurs during the crisis life cycle in a rapidly changing and challenging operational environment. Using the 2001 Ansett Airlines’ Easter groundings as a case study, this paper monitors mass media coverage during this organisational crisis. The analysis reinforces the view that, by using proactive strategies, public relations practitioners can better manage mass media crisis coverage.Further, the understanding gained by extending the crisis life cycle to track when and how mass media content changes may help public relations practitioners craft messages and supply information at the outset of each stage of the crisis, thereby maintaining control of the message.
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