Responding to Crisis: A Rhetorical Approach to Crisis Communication

Front Cover
Dan Pyle Millar, Robert Lawrence Heath
Lawrence Erlbaum, 2004 - Business & Economics - 379 pages
In recent years, researchers and practitioners have explored the nature, theory, and best practices that are required for effective and ethical crisis preparation and response. The consequences of being unprepared to respond quickly, appropriately, and ethically to a crisis are dramatic and well documented. For this reason, crisis consulting and the development of crisis response plans and protocols have become more than a cottage industry.


Taking a rhetorical view of crisis events and utterances, this book is devoted to adding new insights to the discussion, and to describing a rhetorical approach to crisis communication. To help set the tone for that description, the opening chapter reviews a rhetorical perspective on organizational crisis. As such it raises questions and provokes issues more than it addresses and answers them definitively. The other chapters can be viewed as a series of experts participating in a panel discussion. The challenge to each of the authors is to add depth and breadth of understanding to the analysis of the rhetorical implications of a crisis, as well as to the strategies that can be used ethically and responsibly. Central to this analysis is the theoretic perspective that crisis response requires rhetorically tailored statements that satisfactorily address the narratives surrounding the crisis which are used by interested parties to define and judge it.


This volume will be of value to scholars and students interested in crisis communication, and is certain to influence future work and research on responding to crises.

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About the author (2004)

Robert L. Heath, professor emeritus of communication at the University of Houston, is an internationally recognized authority on public relations, crisis communication, issues management, risk communication, and business-to-business communication. He has published many award-winning books, including "The" "SAGE Handbook of Public Relations "(2010), "Handbook of Risk and Crisis Communication" (2009), "Strategic Issues Management" (2nd ed., 2009), "Rhetorical and Critical Approaches to Public Relations II" (2009), and "Terrorism: Communication and Rhetorical Perspectives" (2008). Heath has 3 decades' experience in corporate communication and positioning research. He has conducted research on risks related to various hazards, including those associated with chemical manufacturing and community right-to-know key themes in community relations. In addition, he has published more than 100 chapters and articles and serves on the editorial and reviewer panels of several premier academic journals. He has received many honors from public relations professionals and academic associations and has lectured nationally and internationally on a wide array of topics.

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