University of Georgia Crisis Communication Think Tank hosts webinar with industry experts

University of Georgia Crisis Communication Think Tank hosts webinar with industry experts

March 19, 2021

The University of Georgia (UGA) Crisis Communication Think Tank (CCTT), part of the UGA Crisis Communication Coalition (CCC), and the Museum of Public Relations in New York City jointly hosted the “Sticky Crisis: Health Communication in a Crisis” webinar on Tuesday, February 23. Dr. Glen Nowak, Michael Greenwell and Karen White were panelists with Dr. LaShonda Eaddy moderating.

By joining the views of practitioners and scholars, the panel explored the unprecedented difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic brought forth on the communication industry. The panelists discussed the importance of internal communication in times of crisis, the urgency for companies to take a stand on social justice issues, the challenges of managing misinformation, and the future implications the pandemic has on health communications.

“This webinar showed– through case histories, analysis and observations by healthcare experts– is that good communication is far more than just an ancillary tactic in public health,” said Shelley Spector, Founder and Director of the Museum of Public Relations. “Indeed, what the participants here proved, was that a thoughtful communications plan is just as important, if not more so, than timely testing and vaccines.”

Dr. Nowak is the Director of Center for Health & Risk Communication and Professor at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Greenwell is the Vice President and CDC Account Executive at ICF, a global consulting and technology services provider based in Fairfax, Va. White is the Executive Director of Corporate Affairs at Amgen Inc., an American multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Los Angeles. Dr. Eaddy is an assistant professor of public relations and strategic communication in the Corporate Communication and Public Affairs division at Southern Methodist University.

The panelists called for an updated outlook on crisis research. They explained the need for practitioners and scholars to work more closely together to improve public relations theories and advice – especially as it relates to health crises.

“Textbooks too often make [crisis response] seem like a recipe,” said Dr. Nowak. In response, White said, “When I was a student at the Grady College, we learned the theory, then the ‘recipe’. But as any good cook knows, there’s always adjustments that can be made to recipes and knowing how to do so very quickly is key. [Never having the same day twice] is one of the things I love about my career.”

The webinar can be viewed above and previous programs can be viewed on Grady College’s YouTube channel here.

The CCTT plans to hold another webinar March 23 at 6:00 pm ET for undergraduate and graduate students to learn more about pursuing a career in crisis communications. The career panel will feature Michael Gray (GE and Grady Society Alumni Board), Leah Seay (Amazon), Maria Stagliano (LEVICK) and Samantha Meyer (Grady Career Center). Register here for the March 23 webinar.