CQUniversity Unit Profile
COMM20110 Crisis Communication
Crisis Communication
All details in this unit profile for COMM20110 have been officially approved by CQUniversity and represent a learning partnership between the University and you (our student).
The information will not be changed unless absolutely necessary and any change will be clearly indicated by an approved correction included in the profile.
General Information

Overview

Not everything happens to plan. Sometimes crises occur with little or no warning, while other times issues build over time. How you manage the crisis as a leader can make or break an organisation. This unit will examine crisis management from a communications perspective. Communicating during and after a crisis is a complex strategy of message development and targeted delivery. You will examine the crisis lifecycle and the role of leadership during a crisis. You will develop messages for stakeholders as well as tools for managing intense media scrutiny. This unit is ideal for decision makers in organisations, or those who may be at the front line when a crisis occurs.

Details

Career Level: Postgraduate
Unit Level: Level 8
Credit Points: 6
Student Contribution Band: 10
Fraction of Full-Time Student Load: 0.125

Pre-requisites or Co-requisites

There are no requisites for this unit.

Important note: Students enrolled in a subsequent unit who failed their pre-requisite unit, should drop the subsequent unit before the census date or within 10 working days of Fail grade notification. Students who do not drop the unit in this timeframe cannot later drop the unit without academic and financial liability. See details in the Assessment Policy and Procedure (Higher Education Coursework).

Offerings For Term 2 - 2021

Mixed Mode
Rockhampton

Attendance Requirements

All on-campus students are expected to attend scheduled classes – in some units, these classes are identified as a mandatory (pass/fail) component and attendance is compulsory. International students, on a student visa, must maintain a full time study load and meet both attendance and academic progress requirements in each study period (satisfactory attendance for International students is defined as maintaining at least an 80% attendance record).

Class and Assessment Overview

Recommended Student Time Commitment

Each 6-credit Postgraduate unit at CQUniversity requires an overall time commitment of an average of 12.5 hours of study per week, making a total of 150 hours for the unit.

Class Timetable

Bundaberg, Cairns, Emerald, Gladstone, Mackay, Rockhampton, Townsville
Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney

Assessment Overview

1. Self assessment
Weighting: 10%
2. Presentation
Weighting: 30%
3. Report
Weighting: 60%

Assessment Grading

This is a graded unit: your overall grade will be calculated from the marks or grades for each assessment task, based on the relative weightings shown in the table above. You must obtain an overall mark for the unit of at least 50%, or an overall grade of ‘pass’ in order to pass the unit. If any ‘pass/fail’ tasks are shown in the table above they must also be completed successfully (‘pass’ grade). You must also meet any minimum mark requirements specified for a particular assessment task, as detailed in the ‘assessment task’ section (note that in some instances, the minimum mark for a task may be greater than 50%). Consult the University’s Grades and Results Policy for more details of interim results and final grades.

Previous Student Feedback

Feedback, Recommendations and Responses

Every unit is reviewed for enhancement each year. At the most recent review, the following staff and student feedback items were identified and recommendations were made.

Feedback from Anecdotal student feedback and Have Your Say survey.

Feedback

Students appreciated the opportunity to complete the first assessment as a team.

Recommendation

Continue offering the first assessment as a team based assessment, especially allowing distance and online students to participate in an equitable manner.

Feedback from Unit Coordinator reflections

Feedback

Student enrolment numbers are low.

Recommendation

Relocate the unit as a core unit within the Bachelor of Arts, via the CQURenew curriculum refresh, and promote the unit as part of the Public Relations major, and Strategic Communication four-pack in the CQURenew marketplace.

Feedback from Have Your Say survey

Feedback

Students appreciated the relevance of completing the final assessment on behalf of an organisation of their choice.

Recommendation

Continue offering students the option of completing their final assessment on behalf of a real world client to contribute to the authenticity of the assessment piece.

Unit Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
  1. Recognise different types of crises and how they can impact on an organisation
  2. Critically evaluate potential risks to leadership throughout the crisis lifecycle
  3. Analyse the leadership role during and after a crisis
  4. Apply crisis communication techniques to mainstream and digital media
  5. Develop a crisis management communication plan.
Alignment of Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Graduate Attributes
N/A Level
Introductory Level
Intermediate Level
Graduate Level
Professional Level
Advanced Level

Alignment of Assessment Tasks to Learning Outcomes

Assessment Tasks Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4 5
1 - Self assessment - 10%
2 - Presentation - 30%
3 - Report - 60%

Alignment of Graduate Attributes to Learning Outcomes

Graduate Attributes Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4 5
1 - Knowledge
2 - Communication
3 - Cognitive, technical and creative skills
4 - Research
5 - Self-management
6 - Ethical and Professional Responsibility
7 - Leadership

Alignment of Assessment Tasks to Graduate Attributes

Assessment Tasks Graduate Attributes
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 - Self assessment - 10%
2 - Presentation - 30%
3 - Report - 60%
Textbooks and Resources

Textbooks

There are no required textbooks.

IT Resources

You will need access to the following IT resources:
  • CQUniversity Student Email
  • Internet
  • Unit Website (Moodle)
Referencing Style

All submissions for this unit must use the referencing style: American Psychological Association 7th Edition (APA 7th edition)

For further information, see the Assessment Tasks.

Teaching Contacts
Celeste Lawson Unit Coordinator
c.lawson@cqu.edu.au
Schedule
Module 1: Identifying a Crisis Begin Date: 12 Jul 2021

Module/Topic

What is a crisis?

This module explains the difference between risk, issues and crises in an organisational communication context, and sets the scene for the rest of the unit.

This Module provides the content you will need for Assessment One.

Chapter

Refer to eReading List on Moodle


Events and Submissions/Topic

Module 2: The crisis lifecycle Begin Date: 19 Jul 2021

Module/Topic

The crisis lifecycle

This module considers the lifecycle of the modern crisis, and the potential impact on organisations.

This Module provides the content to complete Slides One and Two in Assessment Two.

Chapter

Refer to eReading List on Moodle

Events and Submissions/Topic

Defining a crisis Due: Week 2 Friday (23 Jul 2021) 5:00 pm AEST
Module 3: When a crisis hits Begin Date: 26 Jul 2021

Module/Topic

When a crisis hits

Modern crises take place in a digital world which provides instant media coverage and requires a specialised response. When a crisis occurs, there is often little time to react before organisational reputation is affected. This module will consider the actions required of leaders in the immediate moments after a crisis, including: the importance of reacting immediately; how to craft and control a message; and issuing apologies.

This Module provides the remaining elements and concepts you will need to complete Assessment Two.

Chapter

Refer to eReading List on Moodle

Events and Submissions/Topic

Module 4: Developing a crisis communication plan Begin Date: 02 Aug 2021

Module/Topic

Developing a crisis communication plan

A crisis communication plan is a document that can be used by leaders to help guide actions during and after a crisis. This module explains the format of a crisis communication plan and explores what organisational leaders can do to best be prepared if a crisis occurs.

This Module provides content applicable for Assessment Three.

Chapter

Refer to eReading List on Moodle

Events and Submissions/Topic


Module 5: Focussing the crisis communication plan Begin Date: 09 Aug 2021

Module/Topic

Focussing the crisis communication plan

Whilst the timing of crisis is often unexpected and can occur with little warning, their nature can be hypothesised for the most part, and this preparation can be the difference between managing the crisis successfully, or not. This module will consider the monitoring of issues, recognising risk and using social media to help anticipate certain types of crises.

This Module will help provide focus to Assessment Three.

Chapter

Refer to eReading List on Moodle

Events and Submissions/Topic

Four Slide Powerpoint Due: Week 5 Friday (13 Aug 2021) 5:00 pm AEST
Vacation Week Begin Date: 16 Aug 2021

Module/Topic

Chapter

Events and Submissions/Topic

Module 6: Post crisis communication - finalising the crisis communication plan Begin Date: 23 Aug 2021

Module/Topic

Post-crisis communication

The aftermath of the crisis is often long term, and the role of the communication professional continues. This module considers the last phase of the crisis lifecycle.

Upon completion of this Module, Assessment Three can be finalised.

UNIT CONTENT IS COMPLETE

Chapter

Refer to eReading List on Moodle

Events and Submissions/Topic

Review/Exam Week Begin Date: 11 Oct 2021

Module/Topic

Chapter

Events and Submissions/Topic

Crisis Communication Plan Due: Review/Exam Week Tuesday (12 Oct 2021) 5:00 pm AEST
Exam Week Begin Date: 18 Oct 2021

Module/Topic

Chapter

Events and Submissions/Topic

Term Specific Information

This unit is made up of six Modules, studied intensively in the first six weeks of term. All content required in this unit will be provided in Weeks 1 to 6. From Week 7 onwards, students will focus on the completion of Assessment 3, and no additional content is required.

WORD COUNT for written assignments:
The word count is considered to be from the first word of the introduction to the last word of the conclusion. It excludes the cover page, abstract, contents page, reference page and appendices. It includes in-text references and direct quotations.

In COMM20110 (and other COMM units), paraphrasing of information is preferred rather than the use of direct quotations.

Assessment Tasks

1 Self assessment

Assessment Title
Defining a crisis

Task Description

You will examine the definitions of crisis-related concepts provided in Module One and critically apply these concepts to Assessments Two and Three. That is - you will identify an appropriate crisis for selection in Assessment Two and an appropriate organisation for selection in Assessment Three.

You do not need to commence work on Assessments Two and Three, however you will need to read the Task Descriptions of Assessments Two and Three in order to make appropriate selections. In this way, Assessment One prepares you for the work yet to be undertaken in this unit.

This assessment will show how well the preliminary concepts of this unit have been understood and applied.

The assessment is in two parts:

  • Part A relates to Assessment Two. Choose a crisis for thorough research in Assessment Two. Explain how the crisis as selected meets the definition of 'crisis' as presented in the unit material.
  • Part B relates to Assessment Three. Choose an organisation that will become the topic of analysis in Assessment Three. Explain why/how this organisation may become the subject of a crisis.

In the response, it will be important to ensure that the concept of 'crisis' is clearly illustrated, specifically that the definition of 'crisis' is not confused with 'issue' or 'disaster'.

The Assessment is to be presented in a word document with two headings: Part A and Part B. The total word count is 500 words (about 250 words per part). References are expected, especially to support the definitions of the concepts. The use of graphs, tables or illustrations is acceptable.


Assessment Due Date

Week 2 Friday (23 Jul 2021) 5:00 pm AEST

Submitted as a word document on Moodle


Return Date to Students

Week 4 Friday (6 Aug 2021)

Assessments will usually be marked and returned within two weeks.


Weighting
10%

Assessment Criteria

A detailed marking rubric is available on Moodle.

Marking criteria will include:

1. PART A: Selection of crisis for Assessment Two
2. PART A: Justification of crisis for Assessment Two
3. PART B: Selection of organisation for Assessment Three
4. PART B: Justification for organisation for Assessment Three
5. Adherence to requirements of assessment
6. Referencing


Referencing Style

Submission
Online

Submission Instructions
Submitted as a Word document via Moodle

Learning Outcomes Assessed
  • Recognise different types of crises and how they can impact on an organisation


Graduate Attributes
  • Knowledge
  • Communication
  • Self-management
  • Ethical and Professional Responsibility

2 Presentation

Assessment Title
Four Slide Powerpoint

Task Description

Choose a recent crisis. You can select one of the case studies provided on Moodle, or you can choose another one. Complete a four slide powerpoint (with voice over) about the crisis. Slides must be presented with minimal words, in an appropriate slide show design. Images are permitted, however attribution is required.

  • Slide 1: Summary of the crisis. This slide might be a photo or an infographic of the crisis. The voice over will describe the crisis, and explain how the event meets the definition of 'crisis'. (Module One provides appropriate definitions of 'crisis' and supporting terms.) The voice over will include a brief summary of the timeline of the crisis lifecycle - from pre-crisis, to the crisis event and any post-crisis fallout. (Module Two provides details of the crisis lifecycle.)
  • Slide 2: Public impact. This slide will discuss the media publicity generated during the crisis. The slide might be a series of snapshots from social media, or a photo that represents public perception about the crisis. The voice over will explain how social media and traditional news media reacted to the crisis. (Module Two provides details of impact of crises.)
  • Slide 3: Key messages. This slide will look at the organisational response to the crisis. Who was the spokesperson and what messages did they portray? The slide might include an image of the key spokesperson. Was this done well? Consider the relationship between risk, reputation and proactive management functions. (Module Three provides information about organisational reactions during a crisis event.)
  • Slide 4: Moving forward. This slide requires critical reflection. What are the lessons (good and bad) for the organisation in this crisis and how can you learn from these lessons when you develop a Crisis Communication Plan for a different organisation in Assessment Three? (Module Four provides an explanation of a Crisis Communication Plan.)

All references not added on the slide show must be attributed in a separate document. Refer to the Moodle site for an exemplar.

Team work is optional for this assessment, with the permission of the Unit Lead. The maximum team size is three. If you would like to work in a team, please let the Unit Lead know the names of your team members prior to commencing the assessment item. If you want to work in a team, but do not know anyone, post your availability to the Discussion Forum. Teams will be formed if three names are nominated. Once a team is selected, changes will not be permitted. There is no grade advantage to completing this assessment as a team, although the discussions that being in a team can bring may assist deep learning for this topic, and workload may be reduced. However, the disadvantage is that you will be required to submit as a team, and each team member will receive the same grade, regardless of contribution or quality. Choose this option carefully!


Assessment Due Date

Week 5 Friday (13 Aug 2021) 5:00 pm AEST

Submitted via Moodle as a Powerpoint with embedded voice over.


Return Date to Students

Week 6 Friday (27 Aug 2021)

Returned within two weeks of submission.


Weighting
30%

Assessment Criteria

A detailed marking rubric is available on Moodle. Assessment criteria includes:
1. Quality of summary of crisis
2. Interpretation of public impact
3. Consideration of key messages
4. Relevance of lessons moving forward
5. Evidence of research, quality of sources, and referencing style
6. Quality of presentation, including voice over
7. Adherence to requirements of the task.


Referencing Style

Submission
Online

Submission Instructions
Submitted via Moodle. Students opting to submit as a team will choose one person to submit on behalf of the team. Only one person per team needs to submit.

Learning Outcomes Assessed
  • Critically evaluate potential risks to leadership throughout the crisis lifecycle
  • Analyse the leadership role during and after a crisis


Graduate Attributes
  • Knowledge
  • Communication
  • Cognitive, technical and creative skills
  • Research
  • Ethical and Professional Responsibility
  • Leadership

3 Report

Assessment Title
Crisis Communication Plan

Task Description

Choose an organisation with which you are familiar and prepare a crisis communication plan on its behalf. A crisis communication plan is one part of a crisis management plan.

Use the concepts defined in Assessment One, and the elements and lessons identified in Assessment Two to inform your plan and its structure. You will need to:

  • diagnose and identify potential vulnerabilities and choose a point of focus for the plan;
  • identify a crisis management team and crisis command centre; and
  • select a spokesperson with crafted key messages relevant to the identified crisis.

The Plan is not meant to be a lengthy, prescriptive document. It is designed to provide advice and helpful background information at times of crisis.

This assessment will be presented as an easy-to-read document in the style and manner of a real Crisis Communication Plan as discussed in Module Four. Write the document as if it was being developed for the person in charge of the organisation, for practical implementation.

You may choose to develop a series of checklists of key actions typically taken during a crisis. You may also choose to include draft templates for media or social media posts. Refer to exemplars for potential headings in the plan - remembering this assessment is the communication component of an overall management plan.

The maximum word count is 5,000 words. This may be challenging because there is a lot of information that could be included. It may be necessary to focus the plan on one particular element, or one type of crisis. The inclusion of risk assessments is not required.

Please note: You are not required to implement the plan. The assessment is hypothetical and although it must be real-world and authentic, whether you choose to provide the plan to your chosen organisation is up to you.

This is an individual assessment. Team work is not permitted for this assessment.

The word count is considered to be from the first word of the introduction to the last word of the conclusion. It excludes the cover page, abstract, contents page, reference page and appendices. It includes in-text references and direct quotations. Paraphrasing of information is preferred rather than the use of direct quotations.


Assessment Due Date

Review/Exam Week Tuesday (12 Oct 2021) 5:00 pm AEST

Submitted as a Word document on Moodle


Return Date to Students

Exam Week Friday (22 Oct 2021)

Grades will be released when marking for Assessment 3 is completed.


Weighting
60%

Assessment Criteria

A detailed marking rubric is available on Moodle.
Assessment criteria includes:
1. Required elements included - nomination of spokesperson, crisis management team and crisis command centre
2. Communication plan considers all stages of the crisis lifecycle, including post-crisis
3. Specific communication challenges acknowledged and addressed
4. Relevance of plan to the identified organisation - vulnerabilities are appropriate to both potential crisis and organisation
5. Evidence of research, quality of sources, and referencing style
6. Quality of presentation, including appropriateness of format and adherence to word count
7. Adherence to requirements of the task.


Referencing Style

Submission
Online

Submission Instructions
Submitted as a word document on Moodle

Learning Outcomes Assessed
  • Apply crisis communication techniques to mainstream and digital media
  • Develop a crisis management communication plan.


Graduate Attributes
  • Knowledge
  • Communication
  • Cognitive, technical and creative skills
  • Research
  • Self-management
  • Ethical and Professional Responsibility
  • Leadership

Academic Integrity Statement

As a CQUniversity student you are expected to act honestly in all aspects of your academic work.

Any assessable work undertaken or submitted for review or assessment must be your own work. Assessable work is any type of work you do to meet the assessment requirements in the unit, including draft work submitted for review and feedback and final work to be assessed.

When you use the ideas, words or data of others in your assessment, you must thoroughly and clearly acknowledge the source of this information by using the correct referencing style for your unit. Using others’ work without proper acknowledgement may be considered a form of intellectual dishonesty.

Participating honestly, respectfully, responsibly, and fairly in your university study ensures the CQUniversity qualification you earn will be valued as a true indication of your individual academic achievement and will continue to receive the respect and recognition it deserves.

As a student, you are responsible for reading and following CQUniversity’s policies, including the Student Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure. This policy sets out CQUniversity’s expectations of you to act with integrity, examples of academic integrity breaches to avoid, the processes used to address alleged breaches of academic integrity, and potential penalties.

What is a breach of academic integrity?

A breach of academic integrity includes but is not limited to plagiarism, self-plagiarism, collusion, cheating, contract cheating, and academic misconduct. The Student Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure defines what these terms mean and gives examples.

Why is academic integrity important?

A breach of academic integrity may result in one or more penalties, including suspension or even expulsion from the University. It can also have negative implications for student visas and future enrolment at CQUniversity or elsewhere. Students who engage in contract cheating also risk being blackmailed by contract cheating services.

Where can I get assistance?

For academic advice and guidance, the Academic Learning Centre (ALC) can support you in becoming confident in completing assessments with integrity and of high standard.

What can you do to act with integrity?