Crisis/Emergency Communication and Security

Authored by: Timothy L. Sellnow , Matthew W. Seeger

The Handbook of Communication and Security

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815396789
eBook ISBN: 9781351180962
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter approaches security from the perspective of the strategic communication goals and decisions expressed in crisis and emergency risk communication. Although the existing literature on crisis and emergency communication largely treats security as an implied rather than clearly delineated concept, we argue that security is a central element to crisis planning, response, and recovery. We see crisis and emergency communication as a response to the threat, surprise, and short response time initiated by crises. These inherent components of crisis each play a role in threatening the security of individuals, communities, and organizations. Security is relevant to the communication in all three of the primary phases of crises: pre-crisis, crisis, and post-crisis. This chapter also provides a summary of the best practices for crisis and emergency communication as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Crisis Emergency Risk Communication model. This chapter also emphasizes the importance of culture-centered communication in responding to the complexity and diversity of audiences. Finally, the crisis at Kingston Tennessee caused by the collapse of a coal ash pond owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority is provided as a case study of an effective crisis and emergency communication response.

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