Coombs Crisis Communication

W. Timothy Coombs developed the Coombs crisis communication and crisis management model and it offers clear guidelines and framework to help businesses on how to communicate during crisis. He conducted thorough research on the crisis, recognized the pattern, and found the best strategies that would help them protect their reputation and decrease the damage. Today, we’ll discuss Coombs crisis communication; stages of crisis management; pre-crisis, crisis response, post-crisis; benefits, and challenges.

Stages of Coombs Crisis Communication

Coombs crisis communication mode comprises of 3 stages; preparing for the crisis, responding to the crisis, and then analyzing the crisis response. The three main stages of Coombs crisis management model are as follows;


The pre-crisis stage in the crisis communication model allows you to prepare for the potential crisis event and take proactive measures to deal with it.

I-Recognizing Issue

During the problem identification stages, companies should recognize the problem that would potentially cause the crisis. It comprises of analyzing the external environment; feedback from stakeholders, industry trends, news sources, and social media trends. If companies are aware of various potential issues, then it allows them to take quick action before aggravating them.

II-Risk Analysis

After recognizing the problem, companies should perform a risk analysis to know the severity of the impact. It lets them know the probability of occurrence of the incident and the number of factors that could trigger them. Performing a comprehensive risk analysis would help you to effectively allocate resources and prioritize your response.

III-Crisis Planning

Businesses and companies need to develop a comprehensive crisis management strategy and crisis communication team. It comprises of crafting crisis response, developing communication protocols, and clarifying roles and responsibilities. The step-by-step planning and step would help businesses and companies to develop a coordinated and swift response.

Crisis Response

The crisis response stage allows you to quickly and swiftly respond to the crisis incident to decrease its impact.

I-Recognizing Crisis

It is significant for businesses and companies to timely recognize the crisis and launch a response. In fact, they should have an automated system to immediately recognize the potential problem. It comprises of following stages;

Analyzing various media channels, social media platforms, and internal reporting system

Beware of the potential issues and incidents that would cause the problem


After recognizing the problem, companies should thoroughly diagnose the problem. It comprises collecting information about the crisis event, its causes, and their potential impacts. However, it allows them to analyze the scope and nature of the problem, make informed decisions, and take corrective actions.

III-Choosing Strategic Approach

After diagnosing the cause of the crisis, companies should select the most appropriate strategic approach. The crisis management strategy should be relevant to the company’s goals and objectives. While choosing the strategy, they should keep in mind the following factors;

  • Reputation and value of the company
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Impact on the stakeholders
  • The severity of the crisis

IV-Crafting Message

It is significant for businesses and companies to craft an effective, transparent, and consistent crisis message. It should offer the right and accurate, address the concerns and queries of the customers, show empathy, and the corrective actions the company is taking to deal with the crisis. However, they should employ multiple media channels to approach the target audience.

V-Analyzing Response

Companies need to analyze the effectiveness of their crisis message by studying the feedback, reviews, and comments of customers on the media channels. It allows them to recognize the missing information in their message, and they should take corrective actions to manage the crisis.


The post-crisis response stage in the Coombs crisis management model allows businesses and companies to learn from their crisis experiences to manage their reputation.

I-Learning & Adaptation

After implementing the crisis communication strategy, companies need to perform a post-crisis analysis to recognize the weak areas needing improvement. It comprises of analyzing the effectiveness of the crisis plan; its strengths and weaknesses, and learning from the lessons.

II-Managing Reputation

It is significant for businesses and companies to manage their reputation. They should follow a proactive approach to earn the trust and confidence of customers. It comprises of taking the following steps;

  • Issuing official apology
  • Taking responsibility and accountability
  • Implementing Steps to resolve the crisis

III-Communicating with Stakeholders

Companies should launch open and transparent communication with their customers and stakeholders, listen to their feedback, and offer them regular updates. The communication should be empathic and honest to rebuild the relationship with targeted customers.

Benefits of Coombs Crisis Management

Some of the main benefits and advantages of Coombs crisis management are as follows;

  • Provides a systematic strategic approach and framework to manage the crisis
  • Preparing and taking proactive steps to deal with the crisis
  • Quickly recognizing and responding to the crisis situation
  • Selecting the right strategic approach to deal with the crisis
  • Consistency and clarity in the company’s crisis message response
  • Evaluating the crisis response and making adjustments in the communication strategy

Challenges of Coombs Crisis Management

Some of the main challenges and disadvantages of the crisis communication model are as follows;

  • Over-simplified explanation, because the real-life challenges are multi-facet
  • Not specified content
  • Limited communication protocols on how to communicate with the stakeholders
  • No focus on internal communication with employees and internal stakeholders
  • Limited flexibility for managing crisis

Conclusion: Coombs Crisis Communication Plan |Coombs Crisis Management Plan

After an in-depth study of Coombs crisis communication plan; we have realized that a crisis communication plan is highly significant during a crisis. If you are learning about Coombs crisis management; then you should keep in mind the abovementioned stages of Coombs plan; advantages, and disadvantages.

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