Crisis Communication Annotated Bibliography

The following resources were used to write content on crisis communication:

  • Arnold, J. L. (2006) Disaster myths and Hurricane Katrina 2005: can public officals [sic] and the media learn to provide responsible crisis communication during disasters? Prehospital and disaster medicine, 21 (1), 1–3.
    This article focuses specifically on the consequences of disaster myths and how they mislead the public. It has useful information on what happens if communicators feed into the myths, risking unnecessary panic, and how communicators should not try to avoid sounding uncertain by turning to myths. The article concludes that denouncing the myths or calling them into question ends up bettering communicator’s standing with the public.
  • Kaman, L. (2009). How the Hong Kong Government Lost the Public Trust in SARS: Insights for Government Communication in Healthcare. Public Relations Review, 35, 74-76.
    This article discusses factors that characterize government behavior during crises; it specifically talks about how the Chinese government reacted during the SARS crisis-what the officials did that worked and did not work. Through the actions of the Hong Kong government, audiences are able to determine which actions worked for the officials and how they can be applied to any crisis. Although the government leaders seemed to have made mistakes, such as not making any public appearances and only relating to the public through press releases, audiences can learn from those mistakes.
  • Kennedy, G. A., Trans. (1992). Excerpts from Book I, Rhetoric. In T. Peeples (Ed.), Professional Writing and Rhetoric: Readings from the field (pp. 20-37). New York, NY: Longman.
    Translation of Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Provides classic definitions of ethos and pathos, two broad theoretical topics in our article.
  • Kennedy, Mike. “Crisis Communication.” American School & University 81.7 (2009). Academic OneFile. Web. 8 May 2012.
    This article outlines how schools and universities can handle crises. Using the Virginia Tech shooting as an example, the article gives suggestions on various media outlets that can be used to communicate with the public in emergency situations. The article also provides statistics about other institutions’ protocols prior to the shooting.
  • Kuklan, Hooshang. “Managing crises: challenges and complexities.” SAM Advanced Management Journal Autumn 1986: 39+. Academic OneFile. Web. 8 May 2012.
    This article provides guidelines for handling a crisis while communicating with the public. The author examines three case studies regarding different corporations and derives advice about how to handle communicating based on these specific situations.
  • Lettau, L. A. (1997). Intramural and Extramural Communication” Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 18 (5), 364–368.
    This article focuses on advice for hospital epidemiologists for communicating with many entities, including the mass media. The information on communicating with the mass media is most useful, since it discusses how epidemiologists should present themselves to the media. This includes showing honesty and not belittling the public as an unknowledgeable audience. It is a narrow, but potentially useful example of crisis communication at work.
  • Littlefield, R. S., & Quenette, A. M. (2007). Crisis Leadership and Hurricane Katrina: The Portrayal of Authority by the Media in Natural Disasters. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 35 (1), 26–47.
    This article is about how in Hurricane Katrina the media became less objective and more accusatory, affecting how the public saw the crisis being handled by the government and other authorities. It does this through a close analysis of the words used to describe events and officials during the crisis. The article suggests that knowing how the media reacted in this case may shed light on how communicators ought to present the situation and information in the first place. It might be useful to see this article in light of “Technical Communicator as Author” by Slack, Miller, and Doak, which discusses translation theory – how receivers and translators (the media) of information can affect the meaning that a message has.
  • Maunder, R. (2004). The Experience of the 2003 SARS Outbreak as a Traumatic Stress Among Frontline Healthcare Workers in Toronto: Lessons Learned. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 359 (1447), 1117-1125.
    This article explains the stigma applied to healthcare workers in Toronto due to the outbreak of the SARS virus. The authors write about how when the virus first occurred, healthcare workers were portrayed negatively because they were not able to take care or prevent the virus from affecting patients. This scrutiny from the media had a very negative effect on healthcare workers, making them feel depressed and unable to do their jobs competently. Also, where hospitals were once a safe haven and a place seen to make people healthy, the media showed hospitals as unsafe and chaotic. Later, the media portrayed healthcare workers as heroes saving peoples’ lives and keeping people healthy. It was seen almost immediately that healthcare workers had a boost in self-confidence and hospitals were once again seen as somewhere people could be taken care of. This article demonstrates the effect the media has on peoples’ self-confidence and morale during a crisis.
  • Reeves, C. (1998). Rhetoric and the AIDS Virus Hunt. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 84, 1-22.
    Reeves’ article “Rhetoric and the AIDS Virus Hunt” goes into great detail about the AIDS discovery competition between French and American scientists during the 1980-90s, and how their use of rhetoric shaped the discovery and credibility of the disease. Specifically, the article details how the French and American scientists used rhetoric differently and how because of that use it was either detrimental or beneficial to them. This article, while its main goal is to apply rhetorical techniques to the AIDS situation, shows how important rhetoric is to any crisis. Its broad points about what happened during the AIDS crisis and how rhetoric shaped the outcome are important when looking at how people behave during a crisis because that rhetoric can truly affect the outcome of the situation.
  • Saliou, P. (1994). Crisis Communication in the Event of a Flu Pandemic. European Journal of Epidemiology, 10 (4), 515–517.
    This article focuses on setting up an effective communication system for a flu crisis by reviewing the strategy used by GEIG. It highlights that organizations in healthcare cannot be blamed for the pandemic, but they still have responsibility. The article makes an interesting note on preparing different kinds of “packages” of information for different kinds of media, which harkens to knowing the audience well.
  • Seeger, M. W. (2006). Best Practices in Crisis Communication: An Expert Panel Process. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 34 (3), 232–244.
    This article compiles ten recommended approaches for communicating in a crisis situation. It is generalized, but focuses on basic theories and rhetorical practices like understanding the audience and how to establish credibility through honesty and candor. These approaches are applicable to many situations and could provide a framework to examine other, more detailed, crisis communication theories and case studies.
  • Streifel, R. A., Beebe, B. L., Veil, S. R., & Sellnow, T. L. (2006). Significant Choice and Crisis Decision Making: MeritCare’s Public Communication in the Fen- Phen Case. Journal of Business Ethics, 69 (4), 389–397.
    This article focuses on the concept of “significant choice” with regards to a case study of the fen-phen drug case. It talks about how MeritCare turned to the Mayo Clinic with their discovery in order to gain the needed authority for a credible report on the drug; this will be important as we explore ethos and credibility. Significant choice refers to giving the public enough information and options to be able to make a good decision. The article also addresses ethics of providing accurate information in a crisis situation. It explores how in the fen-phen case MeritCare provided their information about the crisis (the tone of delivery, etc.) and why it was effective. MeritCare also believed telling the public about the dangers of the drug was more important than their own reputation, which is why the deferred to the well-known Mayo Clinic to report their findings; this emphasizes a focus on the audience rather than reputation. Finally, the article provides information on how MeritCare interacted selectively with the media in order to build stronger credibility and control information flow.
  • Tierney, K., Bevc, C., & Kuligowski, E. (2006) Metaphors Matter: Disaster Myths, Media Frames, and Their Consequences in Hurricane Katrina. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 604, 57-81.
    This article describes in detail about disaster myths and the explanations they serve applied to Hurricane Katrina and in disasters in general. In particular, the authors describe how the media portrayed the actions of the victims of the hurricane and how often the victims were portrayed as looters and gang members when this was often not the case. The media is shown as vicious and negligent in their reporting of the disaster because the victims and situation were brutally taken advantage of: most of the writing explains how young African American males were described to the public as people who were looting the streets, beating up other victims, and just generally causing a ruckus in New Orleans. Additionally, the article explains the rise of militarism in the United States because many military members came to help victims in New Orleans during the aftermath. The authors explain, however, that even though President Bush’s office might want to make the military more prominent in everyday matters, that this is not really necessary and shouldn’t occur. This article will be extremely helpful for our theory project because it explains how and why the media takes advantage of victims and broken-down areas. In addition to explaining this in the context of Hurricane Katrina, these principles can be applied to other disasters, such as September 11th, 2001 or the Iraq War.
  • Waymer, D., & Heath, R. L. (2007). Emergent Agents: The Forgotten Publics in Crisis Communication and Issues Management Research. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 35 (1), 88–108.
    This article focuses on audiences in crisis situations and the people speaking for those in the audience who are in the crisis situation itself. It argues that crisis communication is so focused on how management should respond that it does not always think enough about the audience itself. The authors use two Senators’ articles from the Hurricane Katrina disaster in a textual analysis to exemplify their research on the “rhetoric strategy of transcendence,” a strategy in which the Senators took the local disaster and framed it as a national problem that needed to be addressed on a larger scale. The article also looks at the responses to Hurricane Katrina, discussing issues of credibility and response time; this information will be important in our exploration of the ethos of crisis communication.