Crisis Communication Ethos: Media and Credible Images
Media impact in perception of authorities in Hurricane Katrina
Many organizations treat the media as a necessary evil to communicate with the public, but it can actually be a valuable tool for organizations (Seeger, 2006, p. 10). To work positively with the media, organizations need to keep in mind that the media has power over public views, as Littlefield & Quenette (2007) highlight in their study of media impact in Hurricane Katrina. By analyzing the media’s the word choices in portraying organizations managing the crisis, they revealed that the media’s rhetoric was important in “creating early definitions of effective crisis leadership and responses” (Littlefield & Quenette, 2007, p. 28). To avoid the negative influence media had on the public in Hurricane Katrina, organizations in crises should follow Seeger’s (2006) advice to admit shortcomings instead of pretending all is well (p. 10).
MeritCare uses credible media effectively in a crisis
MeritCare admitted its own reputational shortcomings in the fen-phen drug crisis by entering a partnership with the well-known Mayo Clinic to gain credibility for their message. This strategy allowed them to get their message out and get the public to take it seriously. They further enhanced their credibility by critically choosing their media partners, using only those that had sufficient standing to maintain the credibility of the message (Streifel et al., 2006, pp. 392-3).