Crisis Communication in Public Organisations: Dimensions of Crisis Communication Revisited

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Abstract

Research on crisis communication has traditionally focused on private organisations' reputation and blame avoidance strategies. As a result, there is limited knowledge on crisis communication from the perspective of public organisations. This is troublesome as public organisations have substantial responsibilities for preparing, communicating and managing large-scale crisis events. In order to be able to better conceptualise public organisations' crisis communication, a typology based on communication aims and orientations is introduced. According to the typology, public organisations engage in two dimensions of crisis communication: reputation-oriented vs. resilience-oriented and strategic vs. operational. These dimensions are illustrated and discussed by empirical examples from the Queensland floods of 2010/2011. The paper ends with a discussion on how to understand these dimensions of crisis communication in relation to public organisations' priorities, processes and practices.

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