Restoring Organizational Image While Protecting Public Interests

AUDIENCE: Assume that you are an organizational spokesperson responding to a specific organizational crisis event. Your audience consists of various television and other media representatives (newspaper, TV, radio, etc.). Depending on the nature of your organization and the scope of the crisis, you can assume they represent a mix of local, state, regional, national, and international media sources.


TOPIC: Your goal is to create a briefing based on a case study of a particular organizational crisis. Consider organizational crises similar to those identified in the Crisis Communication chapter in your text. You need to pick a real organizational crisis that has occurred within the last year. Thoroughly research the crisis to discover the background and precipitating events, what the organization did and said in response to the crisis, and any critique or praise that analysts made about the organization’s actions. Because you need to know what the organization did/didn’t do in response to the crisis and what was/wasn’t effective, the information you uncover during your research will help you form the backbone of your crisis briefing. You are NOT to just parrot what your organization said and did; you are to come up with something original and BETTER than what your organization did. So, if you think the crisis was handled well, it will not be a good crisis to choose for this assignment.


Assume the role of a corporate representative for the organization experiencing the crisis and create a media briefing that responds to the crisis using image restoration strategies covered in Chapter 13. Select the strategies that are most appropriate for the circumstances you have discovered (primarily your understanding of audience perceptions) in your research. This is a persuasive presentation. Your goal is to deal with organizational image damage while protecting affected publics. Therefore, it is vital that you provide solid, unbiased support from independent information sources for the image restoration strategies you use.


STRUCTURE: All crisis briefings should conform to the N-A-R persuasive speaking structure. Because of the nature of this speech, there is a chance that the refutation section will be eliminated from the speech structure. If you deny anything in your briefing, though, clearly, you’ll need your refutation section!


TIME LIMITS: Your speech is to be 5 to 6 minutes in length. Effective time management will be considered in the speech grade. Plan carefully and practice thoroughly.


MANUSCRIPT: Compose a complete manuscript (in outline form) of the crisis briefing. You will use a copy of this manuscript for your delivery. You can refer to the sample manuscript outline in Chapter 13, but the manuscript you upload to must also include/illustrate the following:


  • Use a standard, easily readable font size and style (for your own good!).


  • Insert clear headings in the manuscript to designate the different sections of the speech (i.e., Introduction, Narrative, Arguments, Refutation, Conclusion).


  • Double-space the entire document, and use standard one-inch margins all around (for your own good, again!).



  • Identify each image restoration strategy used in the arguments section of the manuscript. Do this by inserting IN RED the name of each strategy used in brackets immediately following the text representing that strategy. (This is so I can see that you understand what strategies you are using.)


  • Identify transitions between divisions and between main points.


  • Identify all supporting material and source citations.



COVER PAGE: Create a cover page(s) to be included with the manuscript that includes the following information:


  1. Your name.
  2. The name of the organization you are representing.
  3. A concise single sentence statement identifying the crisis situation.
  4. The approximate date of the crisis itself and what strategies the organization used in response to the crisis. Why were these strategies not helpful/effective? You could also discuss who was the first member of the organization to respond to the crisis and if this person was the most appropriate representative.
  5. The hypothetical date the crisis briefing would ideally have taken place. Be sure the evidence you cite would have been available at the time of the hypothetical briefing date.
  6. A thorough paragraph that clearly explains what strategies you will use that will be different from what the organization used. You also want to justify what you consider to be the one most important image restoration strategy used in the briefing.


Note: Do not choose a hypothetical briefing date that is too close to the actual crisis situation. You will need to give yourself some “distance” from the event so that it will be possible to locate and include various written sources as supporting material (see below). Responses immediately following crisis events are almost always limited to unsupported and unverified speculation. However, don’t pick a date that is too far removed from the crisis. If you take too long to respond, it will seem like you don’t care about the crisis or its victims.


SUPPORTING MATERIAL: Use a good deal of supporting material (statistics, testimonies, examples) throughout your speech to clarify, defend, and validate your points. This support must come from a minimum of three highly credible independent sources. You will likely rely on reputable news outlets. Information originating from your own organization (comments from members of your organization, information on your organizational web site, etc.) does not count as independent support. Sources of support material must be clearly and thoroughly cited orally for your audience in the speech. Prepare a separate reference page of support sources (only those sources specifically cited in the speech) using MLA style format, and include it with your manuscript.


PRESENTATIONAL STYLE: Deliver the briefing using a manuscript style of presentation. Though a manuscript style, to some degree, suggests “reading” the speech, a simple reading of the manuscript will not be considered acceptable delivery quality. Good manuscript speakers “know” their material well, establish sustained eye contact, incorporate gestures, and develop a natural sounding vocal quality.


We are assuming this is a presentation to a media audience (including television media). In such cases, the “target” audience is made up of media and media viewers.



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