Best practices as an assessment for crisis communication

Shari R. Veil (College of Communications and Information Studies, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA)
Rebekah A. Husted (Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Publication date: 4 May 2012



This study aims to use the now‐classic case study of American Red Cross's response to Hurricane Katrina to demonstrate the utility of the best practices in risk and crisis communication as an assessment tool.


Qualitative case study methodology is used to provide a thick description of the case based on media analysis and internal and external evaluations. The best practices in risk and crisis communication are then used to assess Red Cross's response efforts.


This study provides contextual support for the best practices in risk and crisis communication and demonstrates their usefulness in post‐crisis assessment. Lessons learned specific to the case outline the importance of: maintaining flexibility in the crisis plan; developing a crisis communication protocol with partners; considering the affects of response procedures on the emotional and psychological health of crisis victims; and establishing connections with diverse populations and the communities in which the organization works.

Practical implications

As an assessment tool in the post‐crisis stage, the best practices provide an outline for organizations to question whether their planning was sufficient and their strategies and responses met the needs of their stakeholders.


This study provides reason for continuing to develop, study, and apply best practices in risk and crisis communication across organizations and industries. By using the best practices as an assessment tool post‐crisis, organizations can look at each specific practice through the lens of the crisis to stimulate organizational learning.



Veil, S. and Husted, R. (2012), "Best practices as an assessment for crisis communication", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 131-145.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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