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The current and official versions of the course specifications are available on the web at https://www.usq.edu.au/course/specification/current.
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PRL2001 Communicating Through Issues and Crisis

Semester 2, 2022 Online
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities & Communication
Grading basis : Graded
Course fee schedule : https://www.unisq.edu.au/current-students/administration/fees/fee-schedules


Examiner: Alison Feldman


Keeping your head when everyone around you is losing theirs is easy when you have a system to plan for the worst, and you also have a template for how to communicate. It's also a sought-after public relations skill that can be learned, and a highly desirable addition to your professional skill set. This course works through the processes and planning for successfully steering your organisation through an issue or crisis that threatens its future. The planning process you will learn in this course builds on the frameworks you covered in first year and carries through to your campaign planning work in third year. The messaging techniques you learned in other second year courses will be reinforced, enhancing your job-readiness.

You will investigate the knowledge and frameworks that will enable you to plan for and communicate through issues and crises that have potential to damage the organisation you work for. It provides you with an ethical foundation to avoid a `spin' approach to communicating out of trouble, and instead employ a genuine stakeholder relationships approach to ensure your organisation's stakeholders can make informed decisions during the issue or crisis. You will learn how to plan the response relevant to the circumstances, develop the organisation's written and spoken response, and to prepare your senior management team for genuine and credible communication with stakeholders. You will also examine scenario planning to ensure your organisation is ready, and crisis recovery communication.

Course learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. Identify and apply the core elements of crisis sensing and intelligence gathering;
  2. Apply problem-solving skills by using theory to diagnose and deal with a crisis, and suggest ways to prevent an issue from developing into a crisis;
  3. Use academic and professional literacy skills to critically analyse and evaluate existing crisis and issues management approaches;
  4. Identify the type of issue or crisis that is manifesting, and develop the appropriate communication response;
  5. Construct and implement issues management and crisis communication plans;
  6. Apply knowledge of the importance of stakeholder relationships to effectively manage crises and issues;
  7. Apply written communication skills appropriate to the discipline by preparing and submitting a crisis management plan and scenario;
  8. Develop a crises communication plan and issue key messages appropriate to certain target publics


Description Weighting(%)
1. Crises and issues 20.00
2. Effective and ethical crisis communication 25.00
3. Issues analysis and communication planning 25.00
4. Crisis analysis and communication planning 25.00
5. Crisis recovery 5.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

Ulmer, Robert R., Sellnow, Timothy L. & Seeger, Matthew W. 2019, Effective Crisis Communication, 4th edn, SAGE Publications.

Student workload expectations

To do well in this subject, students are expected to commit approximately 10 hours per week including class contact hours, independent study, and all assessment tasks. If you are undertaking additional activities, which may include placements and residential schools, the weekly workload hours may vary.

Assessment details

Approach Type Description Group
Weighting (%) Course learning outcomes
Assignments Written Case Study No 35 1,2,3,4
Assignments Practical Practical 1 No 50 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Assignments Practical Practical 2 No 15 2,3,5,6
Date printed 10 February 2023