Posted by: kgaboury | November 17, 2013

What makes a crisis a crisis?

This weeks readings were about communicating effectively in the face of a crisis, but they got me thinking about what constitutes a crisis. Is it a situation where loss of life, injury or major financial loss/property damage occurs or may occur? Or is it something that, if not handled immediately and properly, would tarnish the image or reputation of a brand?

Wikipedia defines a crisis as “any event that is, or is expected to lead to, an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society.”

In addition, Wikipedia’s article on crisis management states that three elements are common to a crisis: “(a) a threat to the organization, (b) the element of surprise, and (c) a short decision time.” Crisis management also involves dealing with threats before, during and after they occur.

According to “How Publics Respond to Crisis Communication Strategies, “a crisis is ‘the perception of an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of stakeholders and can seriously impact an organization’s performance and generate negative outcomes (Coombs, 2007).’”

I feel like occasionally, the word “crisis” gets thrown around too easily by organizations, when maybe a less intense term could be used in some cases. Does anyone else feel this way? What do you think constitutes a crisis?

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