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Crisis management instruments (5)

7.5 Communication policy
- To distinguish crisis communication from risk communication
- To understand the peculiarities and requirements of crisis communication
- To realize the possibilities and risks of unusual attention
- To consider the peculiarities of crisis communication with the different target groups
- To understand the importance of pictorial information
- To evaluate the operational readiness and usefulness of the different measures of communication policy
The principle task of communications policy is to convey information with the aim of influencing and guiding consumer behaviour, opinions and expectations. Traditional interpretations see consumers in the sales market as being the target audience of the communications policy. But even under normal circumstances, a larger communication sphere can be assumed, which incorporates at least part of the wider social environment and employees of the organization. Whilst the consideration of the wider environment is under normal circumstances still a choice – the advantages of integrated communications have already been indicated (see also Section 3.1.1) – the inclusion of the wider environment as a communication sphere is inevitable when a negative event occurs.

7.5.1 Risk vs. crisis communication
Within the context of negative events, two basic types of communication can be distinguished: risk communication and crisis communication. Risk communication pursues a long-term approach, the aim of which is the building of trust and understanding within the context of risks. At the same time, it can also aim at drawing attention to risks that would otherwise not be taken into consideration.
Crisis communication, on the other hand, begins suddenly. It describes the attempt, after a negative event has occurred, to minimize its consequences with the instruments of the communication policy and steer to such an extent that credibility is retained for product re-launch activities. If the activity phases of both communication forms are considered, risk communication lies in the preevent phase whilst crisis communication is only employed after the onset of the negative event, above all, in the active phase.

Diagram 42: Risk vs. crisis communication Risk communication
Because it takes place in the pre-event phase, risk communication has a preventive character. It is part of the considerations already dealt with which have to do with the strategic handling of negative events. It is used with the aim that the events will be avoided or their consequences will be lessened. Risk communication, which aims to avoid negative events, is of use in tourism where the tourist himself comes into question as the trigger of a negative event. On the one hand, careless tourists should be prevented from entering into risk by explaining risks and dangers. This way it can also be assumed that other potential tourists, who do not see the negative event as the result of careless behaviour, will not be scared off.