Fearn Banks' five stages of a crisis

Fearn Banks' five stages of a crisis

Many organizations and companies face certain crisis due to, as set by Lerbinger (1997), management failures or environmental forces. The important thing in such a situation is how that organization is communicating about the crisis regardless of the cause.

I am sure that we all have faced such difficult moments in which we have to make a choice between talking or keeping silent about a certain problem or rumor in our organizations.

Well, the first rule in crisis management is never to keep silent about any news mainly the bad one because even highly confidential information always in a way or another escapes the bounds of its organization.


Be proactive and don’t wait for the media or your stakeholders to knock on your door. Also, when they come to you, give them what they look for or else they will refer to other sources which may harm your organization more than your comment or statement.


Let’s see how silence about a crisis is not a real good choice. In 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez spilled in Alaska coast approximately 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo of crude oil. They immediately started the cleanup but they kept silent far too long to address the stakeholders and the media.


When the CEO decided to talk to the media, he started by blaming them for exaggerating the public relations disaster caused by the spill. Their stock market dropped $ 3 billion in the 2 weeks after the spill. (Seymour and Moore 2000:157)



 This was a failure of communication which cost Valdez its reputation. Instead of blaming the media for its coverage, the CEO should have showed some concern for the consequences of what had happened and should have demonstrated competence of how to handle this problem.


By the way, the Exxon spill incident is considered till now as one of the worst environmental disasters in history.


To communicate with the stakeholders and particularly the media, it is good to follow the 5Cs model which is mentioned in chapter 20 in Exploring PR by Tench. This model says that to have an effective communication, the following 5 elements should be taken into consideration by the spokesperson:  


·         Concern

·         Clarity

·         Control

·         Confidence

·         Competence


The reaction of the CEO and Exxon proves that preparedness is very important. Any organization or company should do a crisis audit; have a crisis manual, and crisis training. Actually, I don’t know if companies are ready to spend time and money on regular crisis preparedness workshops. I think there are not many.


 If you know any organization or company is doing this, let me know.

We always hear people say: “The world is now one big village”. Well, I’m not sure how accurate is this description. The residents of that one village should share the same language, beliefs and culture in order to be one harmonized community. That does not apply to the world we are living in. Even with the internet and some common problem we are facing like global warming, the world is still so diverse in its peoples, cultures, languages and attitudes

One big village is just an invention of the capitalist regimes which consider other countries as a market for its ideas, lifestyles and of course products and industries. Another invention is the international public relations which is a profitable business for big capitalist Anglo Saxon PR agencies.

The practice of PR can’t be the same across different nations. The core of PR is building relations with people and interaction and communication differ from a culture to another. According to Barnett and Lee (2002), culture

is the property of a group. It is a group’s shared collective meaning system through which the group’s collective values, attitudes, beliefs, customs, and thoughts are understood. It is an emergent property of the members’ social interaction and a determinant of how group members communicate.”

For example, in the Anglo Saxon culture, the contract should be abided by once it is signed. In Japan, according to Alison Heath in the PR Handbook, the contract is considered as a starting document that can be adjusted as needed. In a culture similar to Japan, how is an American PR agency is going to operate?

This may illustrate that there is no international public relations because PR may not have one system or theory that fits all PR practitioners in the various cultures and countries. The functions, practices, and roles of PR differ as well their interaction with the political, social and ethical system of various cultures differs.

For instance, PR functions in the Arab world concentrate on guest relations, protocol, receptions, liaising with the media, brochures and publications. In other cultures, it focuses on reputation and image management.

Another example is from Japan. There, it is rude to send an email release to a Japanese journalist unless there is a close working relationship (Clarke 2000). Well, in my country occupied Palestine, PR practitioners send emails to journalists with no worries of being thought of as a rude person.  

Cultures are not only socially different but also ethically. PR practitioners in Eastern European countries pay for editorial coverage while this is seen as an unethical practice in the UK. 

In fact, I don’t believe that IPR can never become a reality as long as different cultures continue to exist on this globe.

What is Social Marketing?

I enjoyed the class about social marketing. It was the first time for me to hear this term even though that this concept is not new. It was introduced by Kotler and Zaltman in 1971 and it depends on using the commercial marketing techniques to “sell” a behavior instead of a product.


Social marketers use these techniques and applications to solve some social and health problems by encouraging the people to change their behaviors. Many health problems are the result of certain behavior.


 I find this interesting!  Social marketers use marketing principles to encourage, for example, people to quit smoking. At the same time, these principles are used to promote the selling of cigarettes. Same principles and tools are used to market unhealthful and healthful behaviors. Who is going to win in this?


 In fact, changing behavior is not an easy task because many internal and external factors influence this change such as skills, policies or cultural values




For example, in my city Ramallah, the number of so young people smoking is speeding up and many campaigns have been organized to encourage them not to smoke. However, the situation is still the same. Of course, it will remain the same because there is no regulation which bans the retailers from selling young people cigarettes.


 How do we ask them to stop smoking while the surrounding environment is not helpful or supportive?


 I like this topic and I will read about it more. You can also join me in reading this short synopsis of Social Marketing by Lynn MacFadyen, Martine Stead and Gerard Hastings (1999).

Erab Fuqaha (Agency)
Ace Communication Agency
Director of Communications Research
Ace Communication Agency
25 York Terrace
London NW1 4PT
020.999.9999 (office)
020.999.9999 (fax)
075.999.9999 (cell)
Email: erab@acecommunication.com

Web site: http://www.acecommunication.co.uk

Blog: http://www.prissues.wordpress.com

Newspapers suffer from Insomia


The instant, large and diverse landscape of new media is threatening the survival of traditional media especially newspapers.

London, UK-February 23, 2009



  • There is a steadily decline in the newspapers readership among different age groups not only young pople.
  • Online news sources are becoming more popular because it’s relatively free and accessible. 
  • Soon, many newspapers will move online due not only to readership decline but also high cost of distribution and circulation.
  • Newspapers are also losing advertising reveunes due to the shift of readers, consumers, marketers and businesses to online for the interactivity available there. 
  • New media is stealing the spotlight from not only newspapers but all traditional media outlets. For instance, twitter, iphone and flickr now give real time running commentaries on various international and national incidents.
  • Newspapers are no longer in a position to decide media agenda.  The increasing number of user genertaed content (UGC) sites provide  diversity of news and information that can not be given by newspapers to its readers.
  • The UGC sites are open space where traditional media ‘s accuracy and transparency is put at stake. 

Eventually, daily print newspapers will disappear and be replaced by online edition or become weekly due to its inability to adapt to the challenges posed by new media.


New Media vs.Traditional Media

This 8 screencast is looking at the challenges new media pose to traditional media particularily newspapers




 Ms. Ranad John, CEO, Ace Communication Agency

The study gives new insights on how new media is challenging newspapers and traditional media‘s monopoly of setting media agenda due to the rise of UGC sites such as YouTube, and blogs. The transparency, diversity, and accuracy of the traditional media are challenged by these popular online sites.”


Mr. John Yemma, Editor, The Monitor

“In fact, Ace Communication Agency has touched upon a very important issue in its research which is the decline of newspapers readership due to the shift of different group ages to online for news and businesses. Our newspaper, the Monitor, is going to stop its daily print edition and only have an online edition. Many newspapers will follow our steps because publications are struggling with the profound disruption brought on by the Internet and the rising costs of newsprint and transportation.”


 Jeffrey Lindsay, Analyst, Bernstein Research Center

“Internet has changed not only the way we perceive and interact with news but also how businesses are done. The internet is being chosen by many companies and organizations because it s even better than print for reaching large audiences at very low cost.”


Ace Communications Agency programs have assisted many clients to enhance marketplace reputation and produce measurable results that directly lead to increased revenues. The agency works with both new and established companies competing in a variety of technology, business-to-business and consumer markets. Ace Communications’ offices are in London and New York.

For more information on the agencys services and clients, visit our website: www.acecommunication.com




This 8 minutes screencast is one of the assignments that we have to deliver for the new media module. In this screencast, I m trying to answer the question: Do new media pose challenges to traditional media?


Traditional media and in particular the newspaper industry are facing many challenges due to the digital environment surrounding this industry. Some of these challenges are:

·         Decline in readership

·         Decline in ad revenues

·         Inability to provide real time updates

·         The rise of User Generated Content sites

Many surveys such as the one conducted last August by the Pew Center for the people and press show that there is a decline of people reading newspapers. The reason is that many of them go online which is a diverse, free, and accessible space at any time.

In fact readers go online not only in search of news and information but also for doing businesses. Marketing and advertising are done online which means that newspapers are losing one of its important revenue source, advertising.

A third challenge is the inability of newspapers to provide updated and instant news and information for its readers. Newspapers news is from the past when they appear on the next day edition. Iphone, twitter and flickr have lately disseminated many stories before TV, radio, and of course newspapers.

That s not all, newspapers have lost its control over the media agenda. That is because of the rise of UGC sites where individuals can produce the news and stories that interest them the most. These sites are an open space where a variety of topics are available for all to read and comment on them. Therefore, newspapers cannot continue to be selective, or to ignore stories that interest the people. The diversity, accuracy and transparency of the traditional media institutions have been at stake many times because the new producers of news.

To conclude, the newspapers will eventually move to online but even there they have to reconsider its relationships with the readers, stories they are providing and most importantly the technological advances of the digital world. 

 For more insights on the topic, you can read the following:

Numbers Show Newspapers Heading for Demise, E-marketer

Internet Overtakes Newspapers As News Outlet, Pew Center for the people and press

Will Daily Newspapers Disappear?, Gill Gerretsen

The New Rules of Media, Mark Glaster


In last Wednesday’s class, we tried to answer the following question: Can PR be ethical? We could reach a definite answer and it seems this matches with the spirit of the ethics subject. Well, what if we go to the CIPR Code of Conduct and see if the code can help us in this question.

Check this link to the Codes of Conduct.

If you are done skimming through the codes, tell me what you have found there.

Ok, practitioners should be honest, integral, and transparent and above all should serve the public interest. All these concepts sound very ethical but what do they mean? They are very general and ambiguous, at least for me.

Let’s take honesty as an example. There is no clue of what to be honest about and with whom. Being honest with the employer or the client? Being honest about the quality of your product or about the conditions of people making this product?

It seems that the code of ethics does not solve this riddle. Each practitioner has to decide what is ethical depending not only on the industry’s codes but on his\her personal values and beliefs. If this practitioner sees the role of PR as “the social conscience of an organization” then the clients’ benefits and concerns come as a priority. What if this attitude contradicts with his\her employer? Who or what can help in solving this dilemma?


 In addition to the ambiguity of the core concepts, the code of ethics does not define what perspective or ethical theory is adopting. What approach is to consider? The cognivitism which believes in actual, objective and absolute moral truths or the non cognivitism which states that morality is subjective and bound to cultural context.  

To get more idea about these theories, you can read a good summary about this topic in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .

Sometimes I feel, let me here repeat what I said in the class, that the code of conduct is just set to protect the reputation of this profession or that when something goes wrong. The ambiguity and gaps in the codes may help in justifying certain unacceptable acts.

Why am I lately assuming that everything is done for the wrong reason? I have stopped seeing people as good as before. Wrong? Good? What do they mean? Help please!

Last Wednesday, when my classmates were presenting the PR campaign of Obama for the election, I suddenly remembered an American serial action drama called 24 which was first aired in 2001. What was very strange for my brother Kamel and me that the President of the US was an African-American. I remember very well that we joked about it and said “God only knows, maybe this will happen?” I believe that was the first time for us to see such a thing in an American drama.


Dennis Haysbert played Democratic President in 24

When I started writing this post, I said let’s see what google has about black presidents in American drama. After googling, I found this interesting article, Hollywood African-American Presidents: Black Presidents in Television and Film, written in January 2009 by Cicely A. Richard.

The writer said: “In a world where Hollywood often fictionalizes ideal worlds, their portrayals of African-American presidents could have been ways to test the pulse of the people. If the public could accept an African-American president on film, maybe they could accept one in real life”

Could it be true?!

I was thinking of the influence of media on politics and our perceptions and attitudes towards various events and issues around us. In many societies, people believe what they see on TV screens as a true reflection of the reality around them. 

Seeing a smart, charismatic, informed, judicious African American President as Palmer in 24 makes people like and accept a person like him as a president. Color is not an issue because what is most pressing in the series is how this president manages, with his white staff, to protect the nation and keep it safe. 

Well, I am thinking now of who is behind this drama. Is it a coincidence? For me, I can‘t see 24 but a planned deliberate action to prepare Americans for Obama. I don’t know if I m exaggerating or not!!


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