Every course I underwent toward the completion of the online Master of Science in Communication degree at Purdue had its merits. Some were more challenging than others. Some were more technical. Some were more relevant to my current role. To my surprise, the Crisis Communication course was by far my favorite. In this course, I learned the following about crisis and crisis management:
1. Crisis is Scandalous
I couldn’t look away! Google offers a slang definition for a ‘train wreck’ as “a chaotic or disastrous situation that holds a peculiar fascination for observers.” Crisis communication was all about train wrecks in one form or another. Though some were outside an organization’s control, many were the result of mistakes made by the organization. Each week, we analyzed a case by discussing the appropriate response to the crisis as well as the steps to ward off such crises in the future. This is the stuff of television dramas! Think ‘Scandal’ or ‘House of Cards,’ except our resolutions were more transparent with zero deceit.
2. Crisis Creates Opportunity to Learn From Others Mistakes
An old proverb tells us that “it takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes, but an even wiser man to learn from the mistakes of other.” This class provided an excellent opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes so as not to make the same ones.
3. Crisis Management May Differ By Audience
I learned there’s more than one way to handle a crisis! All of our courses included forum discussions, which brought about differing perspectives. I feel this was by far the best way for me to learn. There were so many “wow-I-hadn’t-thought-of-that” moments during the course in crisis communication. The varying points of view highlighted the importance of thoroughly understanding the audience and environment before taking action in a crisis.
Learn More About Crisis Management Through Communication
Melissa Hehmann is a current student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
About the Author
I am a graduate of Purdue University with a B.S. in Dietetics and Nutrition, Fitness, & Health and will complete the M.S. in Communications in August of 2016. In my current role as a supermarket dietitian, I focus on developing customer loyalty and leveraging key community partners to empower healthier families and build stronger communities in which we serve. I reside in Indianapolis with my husband and toddler son, Leo.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.