Edited by Andrew J. DuBrin
Chapter 9: Managing the crisis lifecycle in the information age
Business crises first caught the attention of the average American consumer in the early 1980s, beginning with Johnson and Johnson’s now infamous Tylenol poisoning episode. The threat and the firm’s handling of the threat headlined the evening news for weeks. On the heels of this product tampering case was a crisis of another sort – the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound. This spill posed one of the greatest environmental threats in the history of the United States. In the same decade, we witnessed the tragedy of the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Continuing through the 1990s, business crises and technological advances in how information was shared paved the way for mainstream media to become an omnipresent force in how we receive and interpret crisis events. It was, in fact, these crises that essentially made the Cable News Network (CNN) what it is today. Fast-forward a mere two decades, and what was once referred to as cutting edge access to news and information, and, for our purposes, crisis events, is now seen as “traditional” media, giving way to modern technology and social media that allow information to flow not only constantly, but instantaneously. Regardless of our reaction to being inundated with information about the latest crisis event, there is no denying that technology has changed the landscape for organizations attempting to manage all aspects of the crisis lifecycle – from preparation and prevention to business recovery and learning.
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