Crisis managers benefit from understanding how crisis communication can be used to protect reputational assets during a crisis. Coombs’s Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) offers a framework for understanding this dynamic. Consider the following scenario in relation to the SCCT framework.
You are the Managing Director of small Chemical Company. Your main process involves the production of Formaldehyde, which you supply to a number of Industrial Customers throughout the UK and Europe. Your plant is situated outside the Industrial Centre of the City and is relatively close to three housing estates and a small village, which in total have a population of 3000 people. A tributary to the River Ure passes directly alongside your site boundary. The River is a successful habitat for salmon and other species of wildlife. The Formaldehyde process is the central and the most profitable part of your business without which it would be difficult to survive. The Chemical Plant has been in its current location for over 40 years and is a prime location because of the adjacent road and rail network which you utilise to transport your products. Parts of the local community have been quite vocal with their objection to your continued presence at the site since a small formaldehyde leak from an on-site storage tank about three years ago. The leak was contained within the tank storage bund. You employ approximately 1250 persons the majority of which are from the nearby residential areas. As a consequence there is a general tolerance to your business. Whilst the local authority would prefer you to relocate they cannot enforce the move through the planning laws as the site carries immunity. They are also acutely aware of your contribution to the area as a major employer. A second and more severe onsite leak has occurred due to damage to an onsite storage tank. Three employees have been critically injured and formaldehyde has entered the nearby river killing fish stocks.
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