The University of Georgia Crisis Communication Think Tank, part of the UGA Crisis Communication Coalition (CCC), joined the Museum of Public Relations in New York City jointly to host a webinar panel, “Sticky Crises and Industry Trends,” on Thursday, Nov. 19. Timothy Coombs, Richard Levick and Carl Turner were panelists with Taylor Voges as moderator.
Sticky crises are more complex and challenging than the typical crises that take a less reactive and more proactive approach to handle, according to the panelists. The practitioners and scholars discussed issues, such as Black Lives Matter and the MeToo movement, and how organizations are handling these crises. They examined the current polarization of American society and how sticky crises have shaped the media – especially in the past four years.
“It’s not a technology revolution; it’s an information revolution,” said Levick. “I’m not sure if everything is sticky, but everything is life and death.”
Coombs is the Abell professor in liberal arts in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University and a leading crisis communication scholar. Levick is chairman and CEO of Levick, a public relations and crisis communications firm in Washington, D.C. Turner is chief brand strategy officer at Klick Health, the world’s largest independent health marketing agency. Voges is a second-year doctoral student in UGA’s Grady College.
Students made up a large portion of the attendees and showed their interest in crisis communication.
“I thought that the webinar was intriguing and diverse. All those presenting brought different ideas and viewpoints to the table that I had not thought of. I also enjoyed that they didn’t shy away from sensitive subjects,” said Douglas Matthews, a fourth-year advertising major.
Bryan Reber, the C. Richard Yarbrough Professor of Crisis Communication Leadership and coordinator of the Crisis Communication Coalition, was one of the program planners. “Tim, Richard, and Carl explored important issues facing organizations today in this crisis prone era. They were thoughtful without being afraid to explore provocative subjects,” Reber said. “This was a wonderful first event for us to co-sponsor with the Museum of Public Relations. We are planning future collaborations.”
Shelley Spector, Founder and Director of the Museum of Public Relations and President of Spector Communications, helped plan this program with the Grady College. “It was an honor for the Museum of Public Relations to work with this all-star team of crisis management experts,” said Spector, “The panelists examined crisis communications from both the theoretical and practical aspects, and effectively introduced to the PR world the idea of the ‘sticky crises.’ There was a tremendously positive response to this webinar, and I hope we can produce the next one early in the New Year, to reflect back on 2020, the year with history’s ‘stickiest’ crises.”
The CCTT plans to hold another webinar jointly hosted with the Museum of Public Relations on February 26, 2021 at 6:00 pm EST. The topic will be “Sticky Crises and Health & Risk Communication.” A video recording of “Sticky Crises and Industry Trends” is available to watch here.