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Communication Strategies for Crisis Management


Often during various crises events like natural disasters, vehicle accidents, oil spills, and others there are groups of people who may need assistance. Since these groups may be quite populous or some means of communication might be unavailable, effective communication systems and strategies are to address every person’s calls quickly and efficiently. There have been several types of research on different approaches to crisis management, preparations for various stages of crisis events, and profiles of vulnerable groups. A brief description and evaluation of the alternatives could help further explore the topic of crisis management and possibly elaborate on their application to victims of crises.

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Brief Description of Alternative Crisis Communication Systems and Strategies

There are certain situations when some means of communication between those who need help and those who can organize it are unavailable. Thus, a good crisis plan needs to include alternative ways of establishing a connection. For example, in the case of natural disasters, a system that involves the formation of community-based organizations (CBOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as ground units to provide support for those in need has proven itself effective. Moreover, these organizations redirect national funds to the local level to help low-income families acquire financial support for recovery, which they have otherwise had no chance to receive due to the complicated process of applying for state financing programs (Bolin & Stanford, 1998). When time is of the essence, good coordination of efforts with the use of modern technology may be a key factor in minimizing the damage. In the case of the Metrolink accident, the company crisis management team used mobile and stationary telephones for communication within the team, which helped coordinate their actions and public statements (Massey & Larsen, 2006).

When it comes to addressing individual narrow-scope crises one of the useful communication strategies may be the establishment of online and telephone hotlines, as suggested by James and Gilliland (2012). Such alternative allows forming collective measures based on individual responses, which can be united in groups like housing issues, food and water supply, search for relatives, and so on. It can also be cost-effective, as it does not require house-to-house investigation of needs. Free calls to the emergency line can be invaluable when face-to-face communication is unavailable due to transportation issues. For instance, if the only bridge is destroyed by a storm. Social media can also be used here as alternative means of communication. Monitoring the responses on the Internet may become one of the ways to discover possible alerts and call for help (Spillan, Parnell, & John, 2010).

Evaluation of Communication Systems and Strategies

The mentioned communication systems and strategies can be more or less effective depending on the type of crisis. Each situation is unique and can require different methods of handling it. Nevertheless, a properly designed strategy may calculate possible outcomes and develop several solutions. NGO/CBO approach seems to be quite useful, however, according to Bolin and Stanford (1998), its limitation is the availability of federal programs. If the funding is insufficient, their work will have a minimum effect.

Communication strategies using digital means of communication are invaluable when either physical connections are obstructed because of natural events. Presently even low-income families generally have access to the Internet or telephone usually united in one device. Thus, the key positive sides of such strategies include the speed of information exchange, huge public outreach, and relative cost-effectiveness. Despite the digital approach to crisis communication being cheap, fast, and has vast population coverage, it still leaves a gap when it comes to the elderly population as they are generally not very technologically minded. The best way to address communication issues during a crisis may be in a combination of the two strategies. The reason for that is the unification of the said benefits and tackling the drawbacks of both.

Vulnerable Groups and Strategies to Address Their Needs

When natural disasters are concerned, vulnerable groups may include every person that lives in the area that is prone to the occurrences of such. Nevertheless, those who have difficulties saving their lives happen to be the most endangered, namely, the elderly and the disabled. Strategies to address their needs may include the previously discussed NGO/CBO agencies, who might inform them of the danger and help them leave the area. Langer (2004) suggests that neighbors and newspaper delivery people could help locate those, who prefer to live in seclusion and offer necessary assistance. He also proposes the use of peer services, which are proved to be effective because older adults are more inclined to accept help from people their age (Langer, 2004).


The situations when not every line of communication is available and the existence of especially vulnerable groups both urge the elaboration of strategies that address these challenges. Communication systems using local and non-governmental agencies and those utilizing means of electronic devices both have their advantages and disadvantages. However, combined they may possess the capacity to tackle various crises and quickly provide support to those in need.

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Bolin, R., & Stanford, L. (1998). The Northridge earthquake: Community-based approaches to unmet recovery needs. Disasters, 22(1), 21-39.

James, R., & Gilliland, B. (2012). Crisis intervention strategies. Nelson Education.

Langer, N. (2004). Natural disasters that reveal cracks in our social foundation. Educational Gerontology, 30(4), 275-285. Web.

Massey, J. E., & Larsen, J. P. (2006). Crisis management in real time: How to successfully plan for and respond to a crisis. Journal of Promotion Management, 12(4), 63-97. Web.

Spillan, I., Parnell, J. A., & John, E. (2010). Crisis Management in the New Strategy Landscape. Web.

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