Public Relations has grown
in importance over the past few decades. According to Turk & Scalan (2008),
Public Relations is one of the world’s fastest growing professions and areas of
study, despite global differences in its practice and teaching (Turk & Scanlan, 2008). In the vast area of
study within Public Relations which prominently consists of areas such as
managing reputation, image management as well as crisis communication; the area
of crisis communication strikes to be as the most interesting.
Crisis communication is a
critical part of an organizational function; failure to making the best of a
bad situation will result in massive damages to the organization in terms of
its image and reputation as well as monetarily (Coombs, 2007). It is the effort taken by
organizations to avoid further damages to the company prior to a crisis. Image
restoration and changing the perception of the public towards the organization
are amongst the activities included in a certain crisis management plan. Crisis
to an organization can be defined by segregating the term into three parts;
namely, (1) public safety, (2) financial loss and (3) reputation loss (Coombs, 2007). Organizations will
take a crisis seriously as failure to evade it will result in catastrophic
losses on multiple avenues.
Today with the emergence of
social media and other forms of online accessible mediums, Public Relations has
evolved as a whole to accommodate the massive changes in the world. Social
media in particular has added a completely new dimension to the communications
concept. Such advances in new media technology and continual dependency on
social media mediums has evolved the way companies and organizations
communicate with their publics (Pang, Hassan, & Chong, 2014).
The emergence of social
media has offered companies to utilize such mediums in maximizing benefits but
with risks (Southorn, 2015). Organizations and corporations tend to
play down social media as an alternative in encouraging growth and dealing with
issues. In todays’ world, most companies are not prepared in dealing with
crisis as the vast majority of them have the traditional strategies in place,
leaving such companies to be vulnerable on social media. Seeing as most of the
crisis’ starting points are online, companies and organizations need to realize
the importance of being prepared on every level possible to avoid disaster.
As an example, the
researcher will look into a separate case to see how companies, manage crisis
online. This particular case refers to the United Airlines mismanagement case.
The issue erupted when a passenger was forced to disembark the plane to
accommodate for another passenger. The incident erupted amongst the online
community causing backfire to United Airlines as the company was labelled with
the words ‘harsh’ and ‘inconsiderate’. The events led to more catastrophe when
the CEO failed to identify the real problem in this issue (Nazarova, 2017). Without social media, the mishap would
have caused even more damage, putting the company on the mere edge amongst the
With the aid of social
media, United Airlines eventually released an apology statement intended for
the victim of the incident with evidently cooled down the issue. All efforts
prior to the event was labelled as too little too late as the damage has
already been done. It was only down to reducing the magnitude of damages as
well as getting the company back up and running.