Magazine article Risk Management

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Magazine article Risk Management

Off the Shelf

Article excerpt

Crisis in Organizations: Managing and Communicating in the Heat of Chaos

by Laurence Barton, 1993 South-Western Publishing Co.

"We learn geology the morning after the earthquake."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is not the approach Laurence Barton would recommend. In fact he would make crisis management an integral part of every comprehensive management curriculum. In his book Crisis in Organizations, Mr. Barton sets out to illustrate the dynamics of preparing for and managing a broad range of crisis situations. In so doing, he has created an engaging, entertaining and highly informative tool for understanding crisis management that is also a rich source of information on other available material in this emerging discipline. If you are looking for one book on crisis management that will provide a comprehensive introduction to the subject and guide you to a host of additional sources, this is it.

Like a first-rate biographer, the author carefully places his subject in context, beginning with a review of the development of public relations and global communication during this century. We move from the mining towns of Georgia in 1906 where public opinion was successfully turned against striking miners, to the rooftops of London with Edward R. Murrow during the blitz, and ultimately to satellite uplinks and video news releases. Within this context of immediately available global information, we are escorted through a wide variety of actual crises: natural and man-made disasters; public relations blunders; terrorism; product recalls; environmental catastrophes; corporate rumors; the Los Angeles riots; industrial espionage; and loss of confidential information. While most thoroughly dealing with the communications aspects of crises, Mr. Barton also includes the issues of technology and employee stress.

One of the great strengths of this book is the fact that while it presumes no knowledge on the part of the reader, it also presumes no lack of sophistication. While starting with basic definitions, "a press kit is....the author does not hesitate to move on to a discussion of the subtle considerations involved in deciding when, where, why and why not to hold a press conference. The author's advice on dealing with the media is excellent; however, the emphasis on the literal care and feeding can become a bit too extensive.

The structure of this book about communication reflects that it is written by an expert in communication. …

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