A crisis is a sudden change in the economic or environmental environment that can cause or does cause, an unforeseeable and risky situation affecting an entire society, a country, or even an individual. Crises are unexpected negative changes in the social or environmental environment, particularly when they happen suddenly, with little or no prior warning. A sudden crisis is often associated with large-scale natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and landslides, while smaller-scale emergencies are often associated with terrorist attacks, outbreaks of disease, and political uprisings or protests. In media terms, a crisis is usually defined as a "weather event or development that affects the performance or security of a nation, state, society, or a population."
Crisis management is a growing field in public relations. Some public relations specialists believe that crisis management is best done through cultural change. Cultural change refers to efforts to inform the public about a problem or to avert a crisis before it happens, as in the process of a new movie being released or a major politician being impeached. Crisis management is a way of educating the public about issues that could cause widespread damage or political turmoil.
An example of the application of crisis management is in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in which many residents were displaced and hundreds died. There were initial governmental efforts to contain the outbreak, but it was clear from the beginning that the disaster would be long-term and messy. Major media outlets took extensive advantage of their freedom of access and reporting was almost instantaneous. Major corporations also utilized crisis-management tactics, canceling stock plans and releasing large sums of money to lure consumers back to store locations during the few days after the storm.
As an academic theory, this is known as "crisis tourism." This refers to public attitudes and actions that serve to worsen a situation. The theory also states that there is a distinction between normal catastrophes and disasters that occur out of nowhere. This distinction is important because the methods and procedures that are used to contain such events are vastly different than what would be used to contain a disaster of a natural or historical nature. Therefore, if one were to apply the principles of crisis management to the Gulf oil spill, one would draw a different conclusion than what actually happened.
Crisis management requires a critical and analytical mindset; therefore, it should not be used as a justification for actions taken in an emergency situation. Crisis-management is a branch of communication and public relations that involve the identification and evaluation of a crisis, its impact on the affected individuals and the ways in which these individuals can cope with the crisis. Crisis-management is most effective when it is applied during or just after a major natural disaster or event. Therefore, if you plan to apply the principles of crisis-management, it would be best to study past disasters for examples on how to deal with similar situations.
In the main article, this was a brief overview of crisis communication. However, if you are interested in learning more about crisis management, you may find many books and online resources that will give you more insight into this important topic. It would also be a good idea to get you own personal crisis communication kit so that you can be prepared in case you ever find yourself in a situation where crisis communications is absolutely necessary. After all, no one wants to find out they were helpless in the face of a crisis.