Comparing and Contrasting For profit and Nonprofit Crisis Communication Response using W. T. Coombs’s Situational Crisis Communication Theory

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Dotson, Miranda
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
Crises have the potential to ruin an organization. Every organization will eventually have to deal with a situation that is considered a “crisis” at least one time. Once in the throes of a crisis, an organization must act quickly to limit the amount of reputational damage inflicted by the crisis. Organizations must choose a crisis response strategy, such as the ones in Coomb’s Situational Crisis Communications Theory (SCCT) to attempt to salvage its reputational assets. This thesis explores the applicability of SCCT to a nonprofit and a for profit organization for comparison. This thesis explores the Wounded Warrior Project’s financial communication crisis in 2016 and Mylan’s Epipen communication crisis in 2016. Media reports and organizational responses were analyzed for compliance to SCCT guidelines then compared. Neither organization followed SCCT completely, but SCCT was found to be applicable. This thesis found several obstacles organizations might have in using SCCT. More research into the use of SCCT is recommended.  
situational crisis communication theory, W.T. Coombs, crisis communication, nonprofit, crisis response, SCCT