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Sleeping with your enemies – and what happens later

Jacek Barlik (Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 29 January 2020

Issue publication date: 17 February 2020

496

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to find out how organizations communicate with their opponents during crises and later.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative research that is interviews with crisis communication professionals in Poland was conducted to explore their opinions, attitudes and practices toward opponents in crises, communication tools employed, methods of settling conflicts and ways of getting along with the former opponents later.

Findings

Communication and crisis managers provided in-depth insights on how they approach opponents during crises and later. Even though public relations professionals are aware that communicating with activist or hostile publics in times of turmoil is important, they pay more attention to internal publics and media. Senior executives often perceive media and journalists as crucial channels to reach out to different stakeholder groups during crises. Ongoing communication with opponents (or former opponents) – also after crises – mostly remains a high call for public relations professionals.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to corporate and crisis communication research by presenting how opponent publics are handled by communication professionals in crises. It shows that most organizations need to rethink their crisis strategies to include opponents in their relationship building, and to maintain these relationships with former opponents beyond the time of crisis.

Keywords

Citation

Barlik, J. (2020), "Sleeping with your enemies – and what happens later", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 143-156. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-07-2019-0079

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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