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Crisis Communication in Digital Era

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Abstract

In times of economic turmoil, companies may have to go through crisis more often than otherwise. Needless to say, PR practitioners have to manage communication during these crises. Communication among stakeholders has undergone paradigm change owing to fast paced development of communication media technologies. Citizen generated content is attaining prominence and it has been observed that traditional media tends to capture news from the citizen generated content. The high interactivity feature of new media has tremendously increased the participation of external stakeholders in the organizational conversations in public domain. This high interactivity may cause positive or negative consequences for the organization and hence public relations managers have to worry about the implications of this wider, faster and unmediated communication. This research paper presents an exploratory study conducted to understand how practitioners have leveraged various digital media channels to combat crisis situations. An in-depth interview was conducted on ten senior level corporate communication executives from varied industries. They were asked to rank thirteen digital media channels in the order of their preference that they would choose to control a crisis situation. They were also asked to elaborate on advantages and disadvantages of each medium they chose. This paper presents the findings and draws up guidelines for practitioners to manage crisis communication in the digital era and directions for future research in this domain for researchers to take up.
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... The effects of this high interactivity may have positive or negative consequences for companies [19], and public relations managers have to take into account the implications of this faster, wider and unmediated communication scenario [20]. ...
... In addition, although the viral nature of digital platforms can be a veritable curse in crisis situations, it can offer the capability of bringing a crisis situation under control; alternatively, the same viral capability can create a crisis situation with just a small amount of information. It is crucial for companies and organizations to understand "the role of processing information and continuing interactivity in times of crisis" [19]. ...
... The benefits of digital communication in a crisis with regard to naïve one-way online communication through the Internet are as follows: organizations can incorporate expertise in their crisis response; interactions are facilitated with different stakeholders at the same time; organizations can track conversations and understand their stakeholders' feelings; and organizations are provided with an opportunity to uncover true perceptions [19,27]. ...
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