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Public Relations Essay Assignment on crisis communication

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Public Relations Essay Assignment on crisis communication


1×3000 word essay:

How the assessment relates to the learning outcomes


Your essay should demonstrate the following (in line with the module’s learning outcomes):

  • Knowledge and understanding of the theoretical approaches used in the advanced study of the role of public relations in the media.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the differing contexts in which public relations impacts on media messages.
  • Critical independence and originality in written work.
  •  Clarity and good communication skills.
  • Ability to communicate advanced ideas.
  • Add quotes from text books, Journals etc.


Discuss crisis communications as a particular type of PR activity and the role of social media in crisis situations. (the ability of bad news to circulate quickly & a chance to give challenges  on social media to speak back to organization, are some of the reasons why crisis communication can often blow up and are be driven by social media. In the response to the crisis that would be where you would want to look at the role of social media, the word crisis, the concept, defining the word, look at what the strategies are to responding to crisis and how it is related to the chosen topics. Pay particular to the role of social media. Draw on academic sources in your answer and illustrate your points with examples.


  • Define crisis communications by drawing on the academic literature.
  • Look at the debates around the different strategies in responding to a crisis.
  • Pay particular attention to social media and debates around 2-way symmetrical communication (which increases risks as well as opportunities), (you can speak back to an organization they can have an effect on the organization through social media).
  • Engage with debates around risk society and cultural contestation (comes from increasing pluralisations of value systems).
  • Select two case studies exploring the successes and weaknesses of PR responses.


General Principles:

  • Use two case studies as your examples
  • These examples are now. part of an overarching discussion/argument.
  • Demonstrate research skills in finding appropriate resources to discuss your examples.
  • Demonstrate engagement with the academic literature.
  • Demonstrate you’re ability to effectively apply CONCEPTS to the case studies.


General Structure:

  • Opening paragraph outlining what you are going to do, what your case studies are, how they will help you answer the question and why any of this is important.
  • Engage with the relevant literature and concepts in the reading list.
  • Case study 1 and 2 ( they should tell us different things, rather than repeat information).

Possible structure:

  • Intro (500-1000words)
  • Case Study 1 (500-1000 words)
  • Case Study 2 (500-1000 words)
  • Conclusion 2 (500 words)
  • 3000 words in total


Crisis Communications recommended reading and sources:


When organisations are in crisis, for whatever reason, coherent communication strategies are crucially important to come out of the crisis intact. You need to look at crisis communications, good practice and bad and the ethical implications of communicating to stakeholders when human well-being is at stake but CEOs may be thinking more about their profit margins.


Coombs, Tim  (2013) ‘Crisis public relations management’ (Ch.17) in Exploring Public Relations (eds) Ralph Tench and Liz Yeomans, Pearson.

Duhe, Sandra (2012) New Media and Public Relations, Peter Lang. Part VII ‘Crisis’ .

Fearn-Banks, Kathleen (2006) Crisis communications: a casebook approach, Lawrence Erlbaum.

Harrison, Shirley (1999) Disasters and the Media: managing crisis communications, Macmillan.

Heide, Matt, (2009) ‘On Berger, A Social Constructionist Perspective on Public Relations and Crisis Communication’  in Public Relations and Social Theory: Key Figures and Concepts,   (eds) M Fredriksson and M. Fredriksson, Routledge.

Jacquie L’Etang (2008) Public Relations: concepts, practice and critique. Chaps: ‘Reputation, Image and Impression Management’, and ‘Risk, Issues and Ethics’. Sage.

Register, M. and Judy Larkin (2008) Risk Issues and Crisis Management in Public Relations: A Casebook of Best Practice Kogan.

Seeger, Matthew ,et al,(2001)  ‘Public Relations and Crisis Communication: Organizing and Chaos’ in Handbook of Public Relations, Sage.




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