How an organization deals with social media during a time of crisis can make or break the effectiveness of its overall crisis response strategy.


How an organization deals with social media during a time of crisis can make or break the effectiveness of its overall crisis response strategy. Within minutes, something can occur and be broadcast to the world. And once something is online and has passed through the current-event environment of social media, it is possible and likely that it will be there permanently. In this Discussion, you will have the opportunity to reflect on an organization’s social media approach to a crisis or problem and highlight best practices demonstrated by this response.

To prepare for this Discussion:

Consider an organization (not an individual) whose social media approach and presence during a crisis or difficult time was, in your opinion, handled well.

Post an analysis of the effects of an organization’s social media approach in communicating through a crisis. In your analysis, do the following:

Briefly describe the organization and the crisis or problem it faced.

Analyze at least three specific ways in which this organization’s social media handling of this problem was, in your opinion, effective.

Illustrate at least two ways in which this organization’s approach demonstrated effective strategies outlined in this week’s Learning Resources.


ELM – Starbucks faced a crisis in April 2018 when an incident occurred at one of its stores in Philadelphia. Two black men were arrested while waiting for a friend, sparking accusations of racial profiling and leading to widespread public backlash.

Three ways, in my opinion, that Starbucks handled its social media issue were:

1. Starbucks swiftly responded to the incident by acknowledging it on its social media platforms. They posted a public apology, taking responsibility for the situation and expressing their commitment to rectifying it. This immediate response demonstrated their willingness to address the problem and empathize with those affected. “Leaders need to be decisive and take action. They can’t wait for the perfect solution. They need to make the best decision they can with the information they have” (TED, 2020).

2. They announced plans to close stores for a day of racial bias training and shared this information across social media platforms. By openly communicating their actions to address the problem, Starbucks showed accountability and a commitment to change.

3. They encouraged customers to share their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions regarding the incident and its aftermath. This engagement showed Starbucks that they actively listened to their customers and considered their input in the resolution process.

Two ways that showed Starbuck’s effective strategies were:

1. The best way to communicate uncertainty is to be truthful and open. People will appreciate your honesty, even if the news is terrible. (Emerald Works Limited, n.d.). Starbucks didn’t just rely on statements and apologies; they took concrete actions to address the problem. Closing stores for a day of training and implementing new policies to prevent bias incidents demonstrated their commitment to meaningful change.

2. Starbucks’ values of diversity and inclusion were already evident in its brand messaging. This prior emphasis on social issues meant that their crisis response aligned with their core values, making it more genuine and credible. “Don’t let a crisis define you. Use it as a chance to emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before” (Hutson & Johnson, 2016).

NP – The organization I selected is an online messaging application system. They experienced a major outage that left many users unable to access the platform. After the issue was identified, the organization made a list to implement a plan as well as provided regular updates to users via their status page about every half hour. They involved all employees on every level with regular updates and meetings. Furthermore, they took to social media to issue a sincere apology to those impacted by the outage. This opened up many positive responses, and praise for the organization’s approach even though the outage affected precious working time. This approach is a reminder the importance of being transparent, honest, and as accessible as possible.

First, the organization did something. They made a list of immediate actions and did them one at a time. In Carter (2019), it discusses that when a crisis hits, teams will be anxious and eager to act. Keeping them waiting for your instructions can cause demoralization, rumor-spreading, and ill-considered actions that may make a bad situation worse. Give them something to do that will prove useful regardless of how the crisis unfolds. This will reinforce their sense of purpose and confidence in your leadership and provide them with something concrete they can share with others inquiring about the crisis. Next, they took full responsibility, privately and publicly. As the organization’s leader, you’re responsible for whatever caused the crisis to happen. Finally, the crisis was used as an opportunity for reform. Situations of dramatic failure can open up opportunities for change. In the end, relationships were strengthened.

One way the organization demonstrated effective strategies outlined in the learning resources was the engagement of employees at all levels. According the Emerald Works Limited (n.d.), there can be a tendency for communication to be “handed down from on high” as the leaders of a company set targets and disseminate information about organizational performance. However, it is vital that people at all levels embrace uncertainty equally. There were meetings on a regular basis that was either in person or via teams/zoom. This gave people an opportunity to ask questions, clarify their understanding, and provide immediate reactions and feedback. Another way the organization demonstrated effective strategies was the display of empathy. The organization really tried to see the situation from the audience’s point of view. The message was delivered with the same sensitivity others would appreciate if you were in that position. Using humble, personal language and acknowledging the emotional elements involved in the situation was very effective (Emerald Works Limited, n.d.).

PART B: DUE 08/25/2023


Note: In Week 7, you submitted Part 1 of the Module 3 Assignment. You will complete and submit Part 2 this week.

As a reminder, you will continue to act as a member of the executive team for a global nonprofit aimed at improving health and reducing child mortality rates in the developing world. Funding for the organization comes primarily from private donors (mainly in the U.S. and Canada) and through foundation grants. You have just learned that a shipment of straw-type personal water filters provided (but not manufactured by) your organization have been found to be defective. These filters are widely distributed by your organization in areas with contaminated water supplies and have proven highly effective at reducing instances of water-borne infections caused by bacteria and parasites. However, reports are coming in of increased illness rates from contaminated water in the areas where this shipment was distributed.

You have been asked, as a member of a quickly convened crisis response team, to outline a crisis communication response plan for the organization with an accompanying rationale (with appropriate academic and professional sources to support your report) that will be reviewed by the CEO, Mary Stevenson. Your communications report should be 7–9 pages in total (4–5 pages for Part 1 and 3–4 pages for Part 2), not including title page, references page, and appendix (with your completed Stakeholder Worksheet).


To prepare for this Assignment:

Return to your Module 3 Assignment Template to complete Part 2 of your communications report.

Submit Part 2 of your communications report in which you address the following in 3–4 pages (excluding references):


Apply best practices for addressing stakeholder communications in this crisis situation.

Use the Stakeholder Worksheet Template as the basis for this section. For each category of stakeholders, explain how you have applied communication best practices, being sure to include appropriate academic and professional references for each best practice you identify. (approximately 1 paragraph for each category)

Refer to the Week 8 Assignment Rubric for specific grading elements and criteria. Your Instructor will use this grading rubric to assess your work.


Crisis Communications: Overview and Management

Think of the last time an organization you are familiar with went through a crisis. How well did you think the situation was handled? Did the organization respond promptly with a clear message, or was the response delayed and incoherent? If your opinion of the organization changed, do you feel that change was based more on the situation that occurred or the organization’s response to that situation? Through these resources, you will examine what a communications crisis is and what its potential impact on organizations can be.

BetterStudy Swiss Online Education. (2020, December 23). Crisis communication: The four stages of a crisisLinks to an external site. [Video]. YouTube.


Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes.

Carter, A. (2019, July 29). Managing high-stakes situations: 5 lessons from the Pentagon. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles, 2–5.


Time Estimate: 6 minutes

Skillsoft YouTube. (2020, March 13). Crisis management principlesLinks to an external site. [Video]. YouTube.


Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 4 minutes.

TED. (2020, November 2). How to lead in a crisisLinks to an external site. [Video]. YouTube.


Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 4 minutes.

Strategies for Crisis Communications

In a crisis situation, the pressure to “get it right” is greater than ever. If handled poorly, an organization could lose customers, funding, or support. A CEO or board member may need to step down. A department head, individual employee, or unfortunate scapegoat may get fired. Although a crisis may be difficult to go through, if handled properly, a company can return to normal or even experience growth. By having a strong understanding of how to communicate well through a crisis, you can help provide a lifeline to your organization and work to make things right. Using these resources, you will explore methods for communicating during crises.

Claeys, A. S. (2017). Better safe than sorry: Why organizations in crisis should never hesitate to steal thunderLinks to an external site.. Business Horizons, 60(3), 305–311.

CrisisPRGuys. (2021, May 4). 5 tips for cracking the crisis communications codeLinks to an external site. [Video]. YouTube.


Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes.

Emerald Works Limited. (n.d.). Communicating in a crisis: Don’t shut down communication Download Communicating in a crisis: Don’t shut down communication. MindTools.… Communicating in a Crisis: Don’t Shut Down Communication. Management Training and Leadership Training-Online. Reprinted by permission of Mind Tools Ltd. via the Copyright Clearance Center. Licensed in 2021.


Time Estimate: 5 minutes

Emerald Works Limited. (n.d.). Delivering bad news: Communicating well under pressure Download Delivering bad news: Communicating well under pressure. MindTools.… Delivering Bad News: Communicating Well Under Pressure. Management Training and Leadership Training-Online. Reprinted by permission of Mind Tools Ltd. via the Copyright Clearance Center. Licensed in 2021.


Time Estimate: 5 minutes

Emerald Works Limited. (n.d.). How to communicate organizational uncertainty: Sending the right message in times of stress Download How to communicate organizational uncertainty: Sending the right message in times of stress. MindTools.… How to Communicate Organizational Uncertainty: Sending the Right Message in Times of Stress. Management Training and Leadership Training-Online. Reprinted by permission of Mind Tools Ltd. via the Copyright Clearance Center. Licensed in 2021.


Time Estimate: 7 minutes

Goldsmith, M. (2019, February 25). How to communicate in times of crisisLinks to an external site. [Video]. YouTube.


Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 3 minutes.

Hutson, H., & Johnson, M. (2016, May 2). To recover from a crisis, retell your company’s story. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles, 2–4.


Time Estimate: 4 minutes

Managing Social Media During a Crisis

In the age of social media, a single mishap can spread a negative reaction to the entire world within a few minutes. Although a company cannot prevent these viral events from occurring, it can take steps to handle situations properly. By having specific plans for social media, companies can better navigate these situations, creating opportunities to change a negative experience into one in which the company can build trust and rapport with its customers and community. Through these resources, you will explore social media strategies to address a crisis.

Emerald Works Limited. (n.d.). How to handle social media criticism: Protecting your reputation and strengthening customer loyalty Download How to handle social media criticism: Protecting your reputation and strengthening customer loyalty. MindTools.… How to Handle Social Media Criticism: Protecting Your Reputation and Strengthening Customer Loyalty. Management Training and Leadership Training-Online. Reprinted by permission of Mind Tools Ltd. via the Copyright Clearance Center. Licensed in 2021.


Time Estimate: 5 minutes

Grégoire, Y., Salle, A., & Tripp, T. M. (2015). Managing social media crises with your customers: The good, the bad, and the uglyLinks to an external site.. Business Horizons, 58(2), 173–182.


Time Estimate: 38 minutes

Sang Yeal, L. (2020). Stealing thunder as a crisis communication strategy in the digital age.Links to an external site. Business Horizons, 63(6), 801–810.


Time Estimate: 24 minutes

TheBraudCast. (2019, Sep 16). Is social media good for crisis communications?Links to an external site. [Video]. YouTube.


Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 6 minutes.

Module 3 Assignment Template

Communicating in a Crisis

Prepared by: Name

Date: August 17, 2023

Walden University


WMBA 6695: Communication for Leaders and Managers



Part 1: Crisis Communication Guidelines

In the face of a crisis, effective communication is paramount for any organization. It not only helps manage the situation at hand but also preserves stakeholder trust and safeguards the organization’s reputation. Establishing a comprehensive crisis communication plan with well-defined guidelines and principles is essential for steering through the challenges that arise (Clampitt et al., 2002). In the context of the scenario presented, wherein a global nonprofit focused on improving health and reducing child mortality rates faces a crisis due to defective water filters, the following crisis communication guidelines are proposed:

Guidelines for Responding Appropriately to a Crisis

During times of crisis, organizations need clear principles to guide their communication efforts effectively. These principles act like a compass, helping organizations navigate the complex terrain of crisis management. By being transparent, empathetic, and strategic in their communication, organizations can protect trust and reputation, which are crucial during challenging times.

Transparency and Honesty

Being honest and open during tough times is like shining a bright light on things that are hard to see. Even when things are difficult, telling the truth is really important. It helps to keep the organization’s credibility strong and stops false ideas from spreading. When we communicate clearly and honestly, it helps people trust us more. This kind of straightforward communication shows that the organization is dedicated to doing the right thing, even when things are challenging.

Stakeholder-centric Approach

When we focus on the people who care about what we do, it’s like creating a special song just for them (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d.). This approach makes our communication feel personal and meaningful. It’s like acknowledging what’s important to different groups, such as people who help us, those who benefit from us, and the public. This makes everyone feel included and shows that we really think about their needs and feelings when we talk to them (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d.). It’s like making sure that everyone’s voice is heard and that we care about what matters to them.


Imagine a song that sounds the same no matter where you listen to it. That’s what consistency does in crisis communication. It makes sure that our message is clear and not confusing. When we use the same words and ideas, it’s like we’re all singing together. This shows that we really believe in what our organization stands for. Our values and mission shine through, and everyone knows that we’re being honest and open. Just like a song’s melody stays the same, our message stays true across all the different ways we talk to people.

Social Media Considerations

Think of the online world like a big megaphone that makes a crisis sound even bigger. Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, becomes really important to talk to people. It’s like being ready for their questions and worries before they even ask. When we fix wrong information and talk quickly, it’s like making sure everyone knows the right things. By doing this, we’re showing that we’re listening and giving the right answers. This helps everyone get the real story from us, the official source they can trust.

Crisis Response Team

Imagine a team of different experts working together like a well-tuned orchestra during a crisis. This team is super important because they know what to do. They help the organization talk to people in the right way. Think of them as a bright light in a storm, guiding everyone to safety. This team makes sure that everyone knows what’s happening, and they help us understand even when things are confusing. They’re like a group of leaders that steer the organization’s ship through tough times, making sure we’re on the right path.

Steps for Formulating an Effective and Appropriate Crisis Message

Creating a crisis message is like putting together a puzzle. Each step helps us build a clear and helpful message that makes sense. First, we need to know exactly what’s happening. Then, we choose the right words to explain things well. This message isn’t just facts, it also makes people feel better and tells them what to do. It’s like a guide that helps everyone understand and know what to expect during a confusing time. Following these steps leads us to a message that’s informative, comforting, and guides everyone towards finding a solution.

Assessment and Understanding

Before we write our message, we need to really know what’s going on. It’s like looking closely at a problem to figure out what’s happening. We need to understand all the details and how they affect everything around us. This helps us build a strong message that talks about the most important things clearly. Our message becomes like a solid foundation that addresses the main problems in a very clear way.

Message Development

Creating the message is like putting together a puzzle. The organization carefully makes a message that captures the main idea of the crisis and how it’s being managed. We select our words with care to show how we’re dealing with it. This message is like a story that not only tells people what’s going on but also makes them interested in it. It acts as a guiding light, showing that we’re dedicated to solving the issue and being accountable for it. The message paints a clear picture of our commitment to finding a solution.

Caring and Confidence

Adding care to the message is like adding a touch of kindness to our words. It’s like showing that we understand how people feel during the crisis. This makes our message feel friendly and real (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d.). Confidence is like the steering wheel that helps people feel safe. It shows that we know what we’re doing and that things will be okay. A mix of care and confidence makes a strong bond that goes beyond just words. It’s like watering a plant of trust even when things are tough.

Actionable Information

Giving information during a crisis isn’t just explaining things – it’s like giving a map. This map helps people know what to do to help fix the problem. It’s like showing them a clear path forward. When we give them this clear way, it’s like turning them from listeners into helpers. They become part of the solution, not just people who hear about it. This makes our message even stronger, like teamwork that makes things better.

Sending the Message at the Right Time

Sharing the crisis message quickly is really important, just like a musician playing the right note at the right moment. Waiting can let wrong stories spread, and people might get confused (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d.). When we’re fast, it’s like being ahead of the problem. This turns the message from just explaining things to taking control. It’s like being ready before things get worse. This way, people get the right information from us, and wrong ideas don’t get a chance to grow.

Methods for Communicating with Virtual and Geographically Dispersed Teams and Stakeholders

Amidst the challenges posed by physical distance, the canvas of crisis communication expands to accommodate the diverse array of virtual methods that bridge the gap between organizations and their stakeholders. These methods transcend geographical boundaries, facilitating engagement, understanding, and collaboration even in the face of unprecedented crises.

Virtual Town Hall Meetings

In the online world, town hall meetings go beyond physical limits. They become like digital places where everyone can gather, no matter where they are. It’s like having a virtual stage where leaders share updates and talk directly with people, answering questions, listening to concerns, and hearing suggestions. This online meeting space is like a big virtual theater where everyone can take part (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d.). These meetings not only spread important information, but they also make everyone feel united, showing that even when they’re far away, they’re still connected and working together as one team.

Webinars and Online Workshops

Think of webinars and online workshops like classes on the internet. They don’t have limits like places do; anyone can join from anywhere. These special online spaces make sharing information more than just reading words. They let people really get involved. It’s like going deep into the problem, having important talks, asking questions, and learning a lot. Even if people are far apart, these online classes help them connect, understand, and find solutions together. It’s like a trip of learning and solving things as a team.

Email Updates

Email acts as a trustworthy friend in the online world, bridging distances to deliver important updates directly to recipients’ inboxes. Its wide use ensures that essential information reaches everyone, no matter where they are. These updates, sharing key developments and actions concisely, become a consistent thread connecting various groups of stakeholders. Just as a thread weaves through a diverse tapestry, email updates create a sense of unity and inclusion. This way, people feel connected, well-informed, and part of the collective effort, regardless of their location (Mind Tools, 2018). Email’s simplicity and reach make it a powerful tool for ensuring that stakeholders remain informed and engaged during a crisis.

Social Media Engagement

The virtual realm of social media transcends geographical confines, constituting a dynamic platform for real-time engagement. Organizations proactively monitor conversations, address concerns, and provide accurate information, forming a digital bridge between the organization and its stakeholders. Through strategic engagement, social media becomes a beacon of trust, connecting organizations and stakeholders across the digital expanse (Applegate, 2008).

Crisis Hotline

The crisis hotline is like a special phone that can reach anywhere. It’s a way for people to talk directly and get help quickly. Even if they’re far away, this hotline is there to answer questions, listen to worries, and give support. It’s like a fast lane to get the information and help they need. This shows that we’re ready to hear them and help them, no matter where they are. The hotline makes sure that everyone’s voice matters and that their concerns are taken care of. It’s a way to stay close and help during tough times.



Part 2: Stakeholder Considerations

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