Case Study II – The Press Conference as Critical Incident
However skillful we are with framing, at times we are apt to go “off message.” That is, under stress and in times of crisis, we may fail to communicate our best thoughts, self-image or regard for others. Leaders are especially vulnerable to go “off message” when meeting the press. Reporters are seeking a story of dramatic interest for the public. If a leader is not properly prepared for such moments, the leader’s failure may become “the story.” Press encounters require delicate framing and human sensitivity. As such, they provide excellent opportunities to learn about the art of framing in highly pressurized situations.
To begin your case study, select a televised press conference that involves a business, charity or political leader. The kind of conference to select is illustrated by Fairhurst’s (pp. 2-14) discussion of Robert E. Murray’s response to a Utah mine crisis. Consider as well her discussion of Hillary Clinton’s Pakistan encounter (pp. 127-131). View the selected conference and, where possible, obtain a transcript. Write a 5-7 page evaluation on how well the leader communicated his or her message, image and relationship to an audience.
Use these questions to guide your analysis:
- How well does the leader enact, or fail to enact, Fairhurst’s “Rules of Reality Construction?”
- In your view, does the leader marshal the best “Cultural Discourses” for his or her cause?
- Does the leader seem well “primed” for the occasion?
- How well does the leader use language forms discussed by Fairhurst (p.93)?
- One cannot stay on message, if one lacks a message. Does the leader give evidence of having a vision and mission? Does he or she repeat the “master frame” sufficiently?
- Does the leader effectively maintain emotional regulation?
- Does the leader create audience rapport?
- In a two to three paragraph introduction, provide the context for the press conference including:
- Sponsoring organization
- Speaker with a brief introduction if possible
- Intended audience
- Purpose and intent of message
- A link to press conference video and possible transcript should be included in the appendix.
In 4 to 6 pages, analysis the communication strategies based on synthesis of the course readings and other resources or references. Use the guiding questions as possible approaches to the analysis.
- Discuss how well the leader communicated the message
- Discuss how well the leader constructed an image
- Discuss how well the leader created and relationship to an audience.
In a 2 to 3 paragraph conclusion, reflect on what you have taken away from this analysis to apply in your communication strategies during a critical incident. The case study should include the following:
- APA Formatting including heading and subheadings.
- Graduate level writing free from grammar and mechanical errors.
- Citations from readings or other relevant resources to support information presented.
- The document should make best use of the technology.
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