Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Tasks with Directions Graduate students in this class will conduct an analysis about the Boston Marathon Bombing., based on the principles of effective eme | WriteDen

Tasks with Directions Graduate students in this class will conduct an analysis about the Boston Marathon Bombing., based on the principles of effective eme

Tasks with Directions

Graduate students in this class will conduct an analysis about the Boston Marathon Bombing., based on the principles of effective emergency management and public relations. The analysis will comprise the following:

The entire analysis should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words and should be written and sourced in proper American Psychological Association (APA) Style, including a complete reference list.

Research: In addition to the material from the Brataas text attached below, students must find at least one other academic (peer-reviewed) source, as well as one additional popular press source (a textbook or media article).

Synopsis: From your source material, provide a narrative description of the important signposts of the incident, from an emergency management planning perspective—prevention and detection; planning and preparedness; communication; recovery and learning. Though you weren’t present for this event, help us see it through an emergency manager’s eyes.

Analysis: From your perspective as an emergency manager, what was handled well, and what could have been handled better? Offer suggestions for how the impact of such an incident could be mitigated in the future, and what lessons have been learned that can be broadly applied in emergency management.


Crisis Communication

Crisis Communication is an in- depth examination of recent trag- edies and natural disasters that have occurred around the globe.

The book covers three types of incidents: natural catastrophes, accidents and terror attacks. It focuses on the communication aspect of each incident and provides accounts from people han- dling the event. Each chapter offers a detailed description of the event and supplementary facts and illustrations from a variety of sources.

With a focus on critical communication elements and lessons learned, Brataas offers valuable advice – based on personal experi- ence with natural disasters, accidents and terror attacks – on some of the most effective ways to prepare for and deal with a crisis. Topics range from interview situations and social media to victim support and active shooter events.

This book will be invaluable to those working in public rela- tions and communications, as well as to those working with human resources and general management.

Kjell Brataas has been on the front lines of crisis communication during some of Norway’s most devastating crises. He held cen- tral positions after the tsunami in 2004 and following the terrorist attacks in Oslo and on Utoya on July 22, 2011. Brataas has practi- cal experience from private companies and government ministries. He has presented at crisis communication conferences around the world, including London, Toronto, Istanbul and Denver, and he has lectured on crisis communication at the university level.


Crisis Communication

Case Studies and Lessons Learned from International Disasters

Kjell Brataas


First published 2018 by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017

and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

© 2018 Taylor & Francis

The right of Kjell Brataas to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe.

Library of Congress Cataloging- in- Publication Data Names: Brataas, Kjell, author. Title: Crisis communication : case studies and lessons learned from international disasters / Kjell Brataas. Description: 1 Edition. | New York : Routledge, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017037478 (print) | LCCN 2017057230 (ebook) | ISBN 9781315368245 (Master) | ISBN 9781498751353 (WebPDF) | ISBN 9781315351285 (ePub) | ISBN 9781315332246 (Mobipocket/Kindle) | ISBN 9781498751346 (hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781315368245 (ebk) Subjects: LCSH: Crisis management. | Emergency management. | Communication in management. Classification: LCC HD49 (ebook) | LCC HD49.B73 2018 (print) | DDC 658.4/77–dc23 LC record available at

ISBN: 978- 1- 498- 75134- 6 (hbk) ISBN: 978- 1- 315- 36824- 5 (ebk)

Typeset in Sabon by Out of House Publishing




List of Figures ix

About the Author xiii

Foreword xv Peter Power

Preface xix

Acknowledgments xxv

Chapter 1: Disasters in the Transportation Sector 1 Introduction 1

Asiana Airlines: The Speed of Social Media 1

Germanwings: No Survivors, Many Questions 5

Lac- Mégantic: Crisis Communication Underachievement 8

Chapter 2: Natural Disasters 13 Introduction 13

Flood in Queensland 13

Tassie Fire: One Person Could Help 16

Calgary Flood: Crisis Communication at Its Best 21

The Tsunami: A Wave of Challenges 29

Chapter 3: Terror 44 Introduction 44

Boston Marathon Bombings 44

In Amenas Attack on Gas Facility 52

vi Contents


Terror in the Capital of Norway and on the Island of Utoya 57

From Nightclub to Nightmare in Orlando 70

Chapter 4: Introduction and Models for Crisis Communication 77 Models for Crisis Communication Collaboration 78

Chapter 5: Working with the Media 81 Accepting and Answering Media Calls 82

The Press Release 83

Press Conferences 84

Preparing for an Interview 86

When the Red Light Flashes – the Interview Situation 87

Other Crisis Communication Products 89

Chapter 6: Social Media in Crisis Communication 91 A Brief History 91

Benefits 93

Establishing a Presence 94

Policing through Social Media 95

Rules of Engagement 96

Social Media Monitoring for Facts, Rumors and Fake News 97

Social Media Messages 100

Live Reporting through Pictures and Video 102

Disaster Response through Facebook 103

Digital Volunteers and the Concept of VOST 103

It’s Hard to Lie … 107

Chapter 7: Internal Communication – Don’t Forget Your Employees 111

Chapter 8: Top- Level Communication and Management Priorities 114 The CEO on Social Media 115

Contents vii


The CEO as a Spokesperson 116

The Difficult Task of Apologizing 117

Staff Care 118

Choosing Your Words 118

Chapter 9: High- Flying Crisis Communication (the Special Case of Airlines) 120 T+15 120

Challenges to Consider 121

The Role of NTSB 122

Laws and Regulations 123

What to Say 125

Social Media in Aviation 126

Resilience in Aviation 128

Chapter 10: Family Support and Victim Assistance 130 Introduction 130

Preparedness 131

Victims First 133

Internal Preparations 134

Victim Accounting 135

Victims Abroad 136

Telephone Hotline 137

Family Assistance Centers (FACs) 139

Support Groups – a Collective Voice for Victims 145

Memorials and Rituals 149

Site Visits 151

Identification and Remains 153

Death Notifications 154

Chapter 11: Preparing for the Worst 160 The Disaster Communication Cycle 160

Scenarios 163

viii Contents


The Crisis Communication Plan 165

Saving Lives through Bleeding Control 167

Training and Exercises 167

Active Shooter Scenarios 172

Business Continuity 177

Chapter 12: Psychological Reactions 180 Natural Reactions 180

The Psychology of Evacuations 182

Next- of- Kin Priorities 183

‘Aren’t They Over It Yet?’ 184

Chapter 13: Additional Information and Further Reading 188

Index 189




Figure 1.1 Asiana Airlines experienced several crisis communication challenges after flight OZ214 crashlanded in San Francisco. 2

Figure 1.2 Carsten Spohr, the CEO of Lufthansa, appeared in a video on YouTube shortly after the Germanwings crash in the French Alps. 7

Figure 1.3 At a speed of 65 miles an hour, a train with 72 tank cars derailed in the center of town of Lac- Mégantic. Sixty- three derailed tank cars were damaged, and a fire broke out almost immediately. 9

Figure 2.1 ‘My name is Mel …’ The Facebook page ‘Tassie Fires – We Can Help’ featured a personal introduction from its creator Melanie Irons. 17

Figure 2.2 Since the fire, Dr Melanie Irons has become a sought- after presenter and has given talks internationally, including in Toronto, Washington DC, Frankfurt, London, Belfast, Edinburgh, Johannesburg, Wellington, Riga, and Oslo. She finished her PhD in 2015. 20

Figure 2.3 According to the City of Calgary’s web page, ‘Flooding can occur at any time with little to no warning.’ That was the case in 2013. 22

Figure 2.4 Calgary’s Emergency Operations Center has dedicated facilities for journalists. 23

Figure 2.5 The Calgary Police did an excellent job of communicating through Twitter. 25

x Figures


Figure 2.6 The mayor of Calgary used every opportunity to praise his staff, who worked hard on handling the flood. 26

Figure 2.7 The beach of the Katathani Hotel was chosen as the site for the Norwegian memorial service to commemorate victims of the tsunami in Asia. 38

Figure 2.8 When Norwegian next- of- kin of tsunami victims visited Khao Lak in May 2005, Hilde Sirnes (left) from the Norwegian Church Abroad and Kjell Brataas from the Ministry of Health offered support and practical advice. 39

Figure 2.9 A heart filled with red roses was used to symbolize the casualties of the tsunami on the beach in Thailand. 41

Figure 3.1 Twitter was used for a variety of purposes, including showing a personal side of the Boston Police Department. 46

Figure 3.2 Social media were the preferred news channel for many people following the manhunt after the Boston Marathon bombings. 49

Figure 3.3 Statoil and the Office of the Prime Minister worked jointly on the In Amenas crisis. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (left) and Statoil’s CEO Helge Lund both spoke at a staff meeting. 56

Figure 3.4 Jens Stoltenberg, Merete Guin and Arvid Samland worked in makeshift offices at the Residence of the Prime Minister on the evening of July 22, 2011. 59

Figure 3.5 A dramatic message on Twitter: ‘Someone is shooting at Utoya.’ 62

Figure 3.6 ‘A sea of roses’ in downtown Oslo. 67 Figure 3.7 From a temporary media camp, reporters

could watch across the lake as visitors arrived at Utoya. 69

Figure 3.8 At the time, the Pulse shooting was the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since September 11, 2001. 74

Figures xi


Figure 4.1 ‘The 4C Model’ Circles of Crisis Communication Collaboration describes how the CEO, the communications team (COMM) and human resources (HR) need to collaborate in times of crisis. 79

Figure 4.2 The ‘Communication Product Loop’ can be expanded or changed based on type of organization, crisis and so on. 80

Figure 5.1 Media interest can escalate quickly, as was the case after the terror attack in Oslo in the summer of 2011. 82

Figure 6.1 Governor Christie and other leaders used Twitter to reinforce important messages. 92

Figure 6.2 Facebook has developed several tools for use in a crisis, including ‘Safety Check’ and ‘Community Help.’ 104

Figure 6.3 VOST teams are ‘trusted agents’ who can provide valuable situational awareness through surveillance of social media. 105

Figure 7.1 All- employee meetings can be an effective way of disseminating information during a crisis. 112

Figure 8.1 With 370,000 followers on Twitter as of July 2017, the mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, has the potential of reaching a vast audience. He actively amplified messages from @cityofcalgary and @CalgaryPolice during the flood in the summer of 2013. 116

Figure 9.1 With social media connected to wi- fi on board commercial flights, passengers can broadcast live from emergency situations – or take a selfie. 127

Figure 9.2 Southwest Airlines has established its own ‘listening center.’ 128

Figure 9.3 Ken Jenkins handled eight fatal events for American Airlines. 129

Figure 10.1 Heidi Snow’s organization ACCESS has 250 ‘grief mentors,’ who provide personal support to victims after airline accidents and other events involving sudden loss. 148

xii Figures


Figure 10.2 A memorial can be a sophisticated piece of art or a simple plaque, like this one on a tree in Khao Lak, Thailand. 150

Figure 10.3 After the tsunami, Norwegian next- of- kin made makeshift memorials at the hotels where their loved ones had died. 152

Figure 11.1 ‘The disaster communication cycle’ explains how planning and training elevate the knowledge and readiness of an organization, so that it constantly evolves and improves. 161

Figure 11.2 Even if ‘cash is king,’ when donations are needed after a disaster, many people will send clothes, teddy bears and so on. All these items need to be sorted and organized, as was the case in Texas after Hurricane Harvey. The picture shows the Aransas County Donation Center in Rockport in September 2017. 164



About the Author

For most of his career, Kjell Brataas has been employed by dif- ferent ministries within the Norwegian government. He soon dis- played an interest in crisis communication and volunteered his skills to a support group within the government that was to be summoned in the case of a major crisis. Brataas had a central role in the Norwegian government’s follow- up of the tsunami in 2004, including weekly meetings with next- of- kin and arranging for two trips to Thailand for family members in 2005. When an official report on the tragedy suggested a formal group be established in the Ministry of Justice, Brataas was asked to be in charge of setting up and designing crisis communication capability within the group.

In July 2011, Brataas was called in to handle international media, internal communication and next- of- kin support after the bombing in Oslo and the mass shooting on the island of Utoya. He assisted at the media center and monitored social media during visits to Utoya in August for survivors and family members.

Brataas studied journalism and PR at the University of Texas at Austin. He has lectured and shared his knowledge and experi- ence in a variety of settings around the world. He has taught mul- tiple courses in crisis communication at the Emergency Planning College of the Ministry of Justice, and he is a guest lecturer at the Arctic University of Norway. Additionally, Brataas has pre- sented at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) con- ference on crisis communication and social media in Istanbul, the Intermedix Summit in Denver and the World Conference on Disaster Management (WCDM) in Toronto (2014– 2016). In addi- tion to serving as a presenter, Brataas has been a member of the

xiv About the Author


Advisory Board for WCDM, which included determining speakers and organizing attendee events.

In addition to his work, Brataas enjoys traveling, skiing and hiking in the mountains. He lives in Billingstad outside of Oslo with his wife Janelle and their three children.

The author welcomes comments and suggestions. You can contact Kjell Brataas through email: [email protected]




It is an absolute pleasure to be asked to write a foreword to this excellent book by Kjell Brataas, whom I  first met several years ago in Canada during the annual World Conference on Disaster Management. It soon became apparent that Kjell is a gifted and highly competent communicator himself, and it is no surprise that he quickly became a key member of the WCDM Advisory Board. His personal experience with a variety of crisis communication issues, media handling, hotlines for victims, support groups, site visits, memorial services and so on have served him well as the author of this important book, which focuses on disaster com- munication with vital case studies and lessons learned from inter- national disasters to avoid repeating past mistakes. This point was first made way back in 1906 by the Spanish philosopher George Santayana, who presciently stated then, as nowadays, that ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

If I  think about my own experience in disaster management, stretching back over nearly four decades, I  am reminded of one particular headline (which presently attracts over 29 million hits on Google): ‘Crisis. What crisis?’ So said British Prime Minister Jim Callaghan way back in 1979, returning from sunny Guadeloupe to a damp, disastrous and strike- ridden U.K.  with rubbish piled high on street corners and even the dead unburied in some cities. Or so history says. The fact is, Callaghan never actually said these words. Instead, a reporter working for the popular Sun newspa- per used them as a headline that caught the popular impression of an out- of- touch government caught in the headlights. Perhaps ‘PM plays down problems’ might have been a more accurate head- line, but ‘Crisis? What crisis?’ suited the mood of the nation and has since become part of British political folklore. The impact of

xvi Foreword


this miscommunication was so forceful that a few months later Callaghan’s government was voted out of office.

Among the many topics that underpin effective disaster man- agement, I  cannot find a more critical heading to focus on than communication. Good leaders and supportive crisis teams are all very well, but if they cannot communicate properly or are delib- erately misquoted, their efforts become pointless. But communi- cation is not just about command:  I am delighted to note that the largest chapter in this book is about family and victim sup- port, dealing with an often forgotten or neglected aspect of crisis management.

We now live in a world where the extraordinary has become commonplace and the unexpected is now regularly anticipated. Add to that hundreds of predatory news organizations, immediate and global communications, stories of abandoned disaster victims and hitherto steadfast organizations frequently discredited and ridiculed, and you might be correct to assume that we are perhaps more vulnerable to all aspects of communication in a disaster than ever before. This also means, of course, that we are more aware of crises, yet at the same time more unforgiving if those trying to resolve crises do not deliver the solutions we have been led to expect: an extremely difficult, if not impossible, challenge for any government, organization or body of people tasked with managing any crisis, in that, for example, the speed of social communication would have been unimaginable even ten years ago.

Nowadays we exist in an increasingly fragile, bewildering and interconnected society, where just about all essential services we rely on are far more entangled than we realize. When something goes wrong, the consequences are therefore more sudden and widespread, sometimes made worse by secrecy, scapegoats and silos:  we cannot be told, we need someone to blame and in any case, we work separately.

If we fail to share assumptions and ideas on disaster communi- cation between organizations, sectors, regions and even countries, we must surely prepare to fail in the future. It’s therefore time to learn from the lessons outlined in this book, climb much further out of our silos and dismantle some of the unnecessary boundaries that exist, especially in an age of unparalleled and instant com- munication that, not forgetting simple acts of human kindness, we should use to our advantage whenever the next disaster strikes.

Foreword xvii


This up- to- date and highly readable book, which deliberately focuses on international crises, could not be better timed. Never has it been more important to dismantle borders, learn from each other, take better care of victims and above all, learn to be better communicators.

Peter Power BA FBCI FIRM JP Chairman WCDM

Co- author UK Government standard on crisis management (BS 11200)

Managing Director, Visor Consultants




On December 14, 1911, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team accomplished an astonishing achievement – they were the first human beings to reach the South Pole. This feat would fascinate a world hungry with questions; how was it humanly pos- sible, why did they succeed and not fail, and what hardships did they endure during their journey? All of those questions would be answered, but it would be almost three months before the first news article appeared to inform the world about Amundsen’s success.

In so many respects, the world today is totally different than it was in Amundsen’s time. The speed at which news and information are conveyed, analyzed and disseminated has shrunk from taking months to being instantaneous. Smartphones with cameras can broadcast live from almost anywhere on earth, and how govern- ments and businesses deal with a crisis and respond appropriately is judged immediately on television and social media. The days of spending hours agonizing over a press statement are gone. Today’s world must factor in citizen journalists, live feeds, hashtags and crowdsourced information  – and these transformations are here to stay.

As the possibilities in communication evolve, crisis manage- ment has also had to adapt: Not just because there is an expecta- tion of instant communication, but because of greater demands for immediate answers, more pressure for transparency and an expectation of openness. These changes are mostly positive, but it is essential that government officials, business leaders and com- munications professionals alike realize and accept this new reality. They must be prepared for it and embrace it. That is the purpose of this book.

xx Preface



I have always enjoyed writing. Growing up in Norway, I earned a bit of extra income writing articles and conducting interviews for magazines and newspapers, and as a young adult I published a few travel guides. However, writing a book in a foreign language was not one of my aspirations.

My first personal encounter with managing a disaster came in 2004, when the tsunami hit Asia and killed close to 230,000 people, including 84 Norwegians. At the time, I was a senior com- munications advisor with the Norwegian Ministry of Health, and I was tasked with a variety of crisis communication responsibili- ties. People from more than 50 countries died in the tragedy, and I had the opportunity to see how colleagues from other countries communicated about the crisis and to pick up some best practices and lessons learned.

That event did not involve interacting with social media. Facebook was still in its infancy, and YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat and a host of other social media platforms had not yet been invented. But social media played a significant role in the next crisis management effort I was involved with. On July 22, 2011, news about a bombing in downtown Oslo that killed eight peo- ple quickly spread through Facebook and Twitter as well as tra- ditional news outlets. Almost at the same time as that event was unfolding, young people at a youth camp on Utoya Island – more than 23 miles from Oslo – were sending terrified messages in real time about a mass shooting taking place on the island.

Another interest of mine is meeting new people. My career and crisis experience have taken me to many countries and conti- nents where I  have had the opportunity to speak at professional seminars, to share ideas and to learn from friends and colleagues. Attending these conferences has taught me that there is a large group of professionals out there who have varied experience and knowledge, and from whom there is much to learn. Sadly, though, working in the aftermath of disasters has also forced me to meet and confront the human side of tragedy, teaching me that the greatest toll is on the victims, their families and those who knew and loved them. It is our job, as those tasked with the management of a crisis, to do so with as much compassion, professionalism and speed as possible.

Preface xxi



This book includes several examples of how crisis communica- tion can make a tragic situation even worse. A common mistake is when a government official or the chief executive officer of a company chooses words badly or does not focus on the victims. Many people remember the CEO of British Petroleum, in response to a reporter about the disaster that killed 11 people on the off- shore drilling platform Deepwater Horizon, saying, ‘I want my life back.’ His tone- deaf response infuriated the victims’ families and the general public alike. Another example of atrocious communi- cation is recalled from the maritime disaster in 1994, when MS Estonia sank in the middle of the night in the Baltic Sea and 852 souls perished. The first press release put out by the ship’s owners created a firestorm of fury when they declared, ‘We can confirm that the ship was insured.’

There are other lessons to be learned as well. One has to do with the care taken when handling lists and numbers. It is essential to keep track of who has died, where victims are, which hospitals have admitted injured, where next- of- kin should report, and con- tact information for both the next- of- kin and the media. Accurate dissemination of information, and doing this in a timely fashion, is among the most demanding tasks of crisis management. It can mean the difference between staying on top of a crisis and letting events get ahead of you and out of control.

Several chapters in this book cover the technical and theoreti- cal aspects of crisis communication – these are the ‘nuts and bolts’ of our work. And I  include sections on working with the media and other communication channels and recommendations for handling databases. But it is important to emphasize that disas- ter management and crisis communication are, first and foremost, about relating to people. As the result of a disaster, countless vic- tims have their lives changed forever, and it is paramount to keep that in mind when you draft press releases, comment on social media or give interviews to print and electronic media outlets. A poor response or ill- considered thought blurted out on CNN or BBC can be devastating to your organization – but even more so to the victims and their families.

For communicators as well as managers, it is also important to understand the psychological aspects of being in a crisis situation,

xxii Preface


or what it is like to be the sudden victim of a tragic event. Initial shock often turns to anger, but effective and direct intervention by management, combined with professional communication, can go a long way towards mitigating the situation.


My main emphasis in this book is on the communication aspects of handling a disaster, including the way we speak, write, tweet or post about events during and after an event. The book is divided into two parts. The first is called ‘Case Studies’ and includes narra- tives of natural disasters, terror attacks and disasters in the trans- portation sector. I  have included 11 different case studies, and I  have chosen them because they  – communications- wise  – were handled exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly, or because they involved new and modern ways of communicating. Two of the case studies include a personal voice, as I was heavily involved in the handling of the tsunami in 2004 and the terror in Oslo and Utoya in 2011. The second part of the book focuses on ‘Lessons Learned’ and best practices, many of which are drawn from case studies presented earlier. Most of the advice given is based on my personal experience and knowledge, but I  also include hints and advice from additional sources and refer to studies and research from people and organizations all over the world.

In addition, three sub- headings should be mentioned, as they are featured widely throughout the book:

Social media have profoundly changed the way crisis manage- ment works and how we, as crisis managers, do our jobs. I  focus on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others. In fact, because of their importance, some of the case studies deal mostly with the use of social media. While it may be a bit ‘scary’ to include social media in a book such as this, due to the rapidity of change, what may be considered the norm


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