Crisis Communication: The Bayside Inn
Richard J Ritterbeck
COMM321 – E1WW (WI13)
February 16, 2013
Effective communication is extremely important, especially in times of crisis. Crisis communication helps to correct an immediate scar on an organization’s character. Through effective communication, the moral rectitude of the organization can be restored.
Identify the stakeholders.
There are several stakeholders in the case of the Bayside Inn. External stakeholders are the customers and potential customers that may visit the Bayside Inn. Additionally, other external stakeholders might be owners and employees of nearby businesses that may lose business as visitors to the Bayside Inn decrease. Internal stakeholders are the employees and owners of the Bayside Inn. For the external stakeholders, the surrounding community and nearby business owners and employees would also be potential visitors to the Bayside Inn. Two main groups of stakeholders are the key targets for effective communication in the case of the inn.
Create a message to send to each group of stakeholders.
With two main groups of stakeholders, there needs to be communication directed at both groups, and the messages will be similar, but different at the same time. Internal stakeholders will get a message with more action items for the internal stakeholders to do, while the message to external stakeholders will be more a message of what they will be doing to correct those problems that caused the crisis.
The two potential crisis communication messages to the stakeholders should be as follows, with the messages directed to the community and the employees, respectively:
“The recent event at the Bayside Inn have been regretful, and the management at Bayside is deeply sorry. We are working diligently to determine the cause of the problem, and will correct it immediately once the problem is found. The Bayside Inn will be closed until we determine the cause of the problem, and regret any inconvenience this may cause. We will keep you posted, as soon as we find out any details.”
“The Bayside Inn has a reputation that is a premium dining and retreat experience. Our reputation is tarnished by these recent events, and until further notice, all operations will cease until the cause of these illnesses are found. We will begin instant implementation of new policies, and are reexamining both storage and preparation procedures for the Bayside Inn. Thank you for your renewed efforts in this situation, and let’s work to get this situation corrected.”
Choose the method you will use to send each message.
The method of distribution is important for delivering the messages. For the message to the external stakeholders, the message needs to be distributed by the media. Openness with the media will help to get the message out to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. For the internal stakeholders, a smaller company like the Bayside Inn could deliver the message in person, as a company wide meeting. The inn has several meeting rooms, and they could be used for both, meeting the media and delivering the message in person to the employees of the inn.
State how you would time your messages: which goes out first, second, at the same time, etc.
Timing of the messages is important, but only that they are delivered quickly. They must be delivered quickly, and whichever comes first wouldn’t be important, but for practicality, the message to the external stakeholders would be easiest to deliver the quickest. Once acknowledgement of the problem happens, the next working days, in which the inn would be closed, leaves plenty of time for the meeting with the internal stakeholders. The messages are important, and both must be delivered quickly, and prudence would dictate that the message to the media would be easiest to deliver quickest, and the message to internal stakeholders would follow immediately afterwards.
Outline anticipated follow-up messages needed. To whom would they go and when?
Follow up messages would be important as well. There would be at least two important follow up messages to the stakeholders. As soon as the problem is found, it should be explained, and how they are correcting it. At the same time, a schedule for return to normal work, and assurance that the problem will be fixed could also be given. For the internal stakeholders, a very similar message would be given. That message would be what the problem is, what each individual will need to do to ensure the problem doesn’t recur, and when the business will return to normal operation. These follow-up messages are just as important as the original messages, and show the company is being honest and correcting the problems at hand.
Crisis communication is important. If the Bayside Inn is to maintain a good standing within the community and remain a premium establishment, they must work to bring their reputation back up to where it was before people started getting sick. These problems are correctible, and resolution is important. However, more important is open disclosure and honesty while the resolution is being implemented.
Zaremba, A. (2010). Organizational Communication. Oxford University Press, Inc. ISBN-13: 978-0-19-537904-4.