A crisis refers to any situation that is frightening or threatens to inflict injury or bring death to people, cause damage to property or even serve to impede business, the normal lives, and greatly destroying the reputation of a previously intact entity; generally bringing a negative impact (Barton, 2007, pp. 7-9). A few examples of disasters, often outside our control include earthquakes, raging hurricanes and typhoons, fire outbreaks, bombs and explosions, amid others such as infrastructural collapse.
On April 19, 1995, a bomb went off in the downtown of Oklahoma City resulting to the death of 168 people including property damage. Albeit the loss, the city managed to overcome the calamity through a fast response; marked in speedy and strategic rescue operations, and keeping the public engaged, in a relaxed manner within the entire rescue operation, and recovery of the victims. The success of the operation was solely based on an effective crisis communication plan, which was done in an honest, sincere and in an empathetic way, against the mental stress experienced by the public, the media, the various stakeholders and business partners; to instill trust and confidence in the capacity of the Oklahoma City leadership (Reynolds et. Al., 2002, p. 47).
Components of a comprehensive crisis communication plan
From the perspective of crisis experts and rescue specialists, about 90 percent of the time is expended on decisions relative to public address, and only a 10 percent to training. Thus, a great leader must understand that the public demands every bit of information and facts; acquisition of relevant information relevant to their protection from harm and economic losses; a clear definition of their role and participation in recovery and response; as well as to what measures their leaders are having in place to restore normalcy. This information is critical to making well-informed decision, which is guided by the available information (Groom, 2011, p. 79).
Leaders with goals in mind will ensure that the available information leads to: a decrease in injuries, sickness, and death; a fast response and recovery measures, bearing the least public or victim resistance; and the proper allocation of the limited response and recovery resources. It is upon the discretion of such a leader to understand what information to release; when to release it; the means of release; the location of release; whom to release it to; and the reason behind its release. This is a lot to anticipate from a leader on ensuring that the public has its all its needs catered to, and bringing the community to calm. It is only through a relaxed public and a well prepared rescue team that would help the restoration of normality (Reynolds et. al., 2002).
Generally, a well-equipped leader will put communication plans and wherewithal in place; a mitigation that cuts down on the number of operations, the ups and downs, which must be made at the crisis moment. In any institution, it is possible to predict the various forms of calamities to expect and hence leaders can predict the amount of information the public would demand, as well as to what type of rescue resources necessary. Subsequently, an effective leader must plan with his or her planning and communication team, and share this information with the disaster-response team (Barton, 2007).
Communication failures and their drawbacks
In various tragic events, operational success has always been impeded by poor communication strategies, resulting to deterioration of a controllable situation. Mixed messages have been found to trigger a form of confusion in the event of disasters; response and recoveries. When the Midwestern United States was hit by great floods in the 90s, the response team was comprised of multiple organizations (governmental and non-governmental organizations,). This greatly compromised the chain of command, where everyone was