Crisis & Emergency Communication as a Collaborative Effort 

Sherry Southard, Department of English, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina ....

[Use this outline, along with resources provided, to guide your knowledge-building about crisis and emergency communication.]

Crisis and Emergency Communication    

1. Defining "crisis" and "emergency." Examples, categorizing, & defining: click here.

2. Discussing events in which the crisis and emergency were handled effectively.

3. Discussing events in which the crisis and emergency were not handled effectively.

4. Reviewing the stages of crisis and emergency communications (an exercise in do's and do not's): click here.

5. Pre-crises planning: forming a crisis management team, reviewing and rehearing crisis responses in advance, and formalizing these into a written implementation plan.

6. Theory of image restoration [A typology of crisis communication strategies]: denial, evading of responsibility, reducing offensiveness, corrective action, and mortification.


Collaboration [Group Efforts, Team Projects]    

1. Reviewing the dimensions of collaboration:  click here.

2. Discussing class projects for which the collaboration was effective, including analysis of reasons for the effective collaboration.

3. Discussing class projects for which the collaboration was not effective, including analysis of reasons for the ineffective collaboration.


Synthesis --  So what ??     

Learning an awareness of crisis communication and management, along with a review of collaborative class efforts


Developing a model for assessment of crisis (and problem) situations -- click here

[BTW: Technology that cannot "collaborate" with other technology -- a different type of "communication" challenge]



1. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses []   |  AACN's Healthy Work Environment Initiative []  |  AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments [as pdf]

"The standards align directly with the core competencies for health professionals recommended by the Institute of Medicine. They support the education of all health professionals 'to deliver patient-centered care as members of an interdisciplinary team, emphasizing evidence-based practice, quality improvement approaches, and informatics.'” p.12  [Consider text in red in terms of work environment.]

2. Technology [To facilitate collaboration, applications that fit onto a flash drive, thumb drive, JumpDrive, or whatever you call the highly portable device]: portable apps 

3. Crisis & Emergency Communication: Resources

4. Collaboration: Resources


Examples & Categorizing ... 

Environments:  work  |  school  |  home  | community

Types:  weather  |  medical  |  fire  |  electrical, water, gas (means of completing tasks)  |  office & business  |  personal ("disgruntled" employees, students, others)  |  terrorists 

Office & business related:  

from not meeting monthly sales quotas and productions deadlines  arrow  to corporate buyouts, outsourcing jobs, business closings

Defining ...  

from student discussion: 

An organizational crisis:


#1 -- "When crisis occurs, ... managers are responsible for two interdependent processes: crisis management and crisis communications. 

#2 -- "Crisis communication depends on the audience .... 

Dimensions of Collaboration ...   

Dimensions Debate/Conflict Assessment Leadership

Content & ideas 



Informational (generating ideas & content) 

Methods & process 


Deadlines & tasks 

Group management (supervising organizational tasks) 

Personality & interpersonal aspects 


Social dynamics 

Interpersonal (monitoring social aspect of process & resolving conflicts) 

Model for Assessment ...

Leader with team in place

facilitates the communication and plan

Communication: Written & oral

frequent, open so team can professionally "argue/debate" details of project, open-mindedness, development of interpersonal relationships based on trust and respect

Communication: Technological

team knowledgeable in technologies being use, technologies compatible


procedures established, tasks delineated, roles defined


committed but flexible, each team member completing tasks as required

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