Volume 5, Issue 4 - August 2010Print | Email

Welcome From the New Editor

photo - BPAs a Communication Studies Department chairperson, I'm often asked, “What careers can a student pursue with a communication degree?” My question in response is, “What kind of career doesn't require expertise in communication?” Surveys of employers consistently identify communication skills as crucial for success in the workplace. While that may be intuitively obvious, what may not always be so obvious is what a critical role communication plays in the vital issues of our day. Part of my role as editor of Communication Currentsis to help to shed light on that role.
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Cross Current

BP's Crisis Communication: Finding Redemption through Renewal

photo - oil on Gulf Coast beachOn April 20, 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig, located off the coast of Louisiana, exploded in a massive blowout that killed 11 men and injured 17 others. Two days later, the burning rig sank, setting off the largest offshore oil spill in United States history. The economies of the Gulf Coast states, as well as their fragile ecosystems, have been devastated by the spill. BP placed $20 billion in escrow as a down payment against the true cost of the disaster, sure to be much higher by the time it is finally resolved. It is difficult to imagine a more challenging Public Relations situation than that faced by BP. Valuable lessons may be learned in organizational crisis communication from an examination of the actions taken by BP, both before the Deepwater Horizon explosion and later, during its aftermath.

The hope for BP, as well as any organization in crisis, is in the undeniable fact that all crises bring with them opportunities for renewal. Crisis communication scholars emphasize that a discourse of renewal in organizations requires strong leadership, a prospective outlook, and a willingness to tenaciously embrace values of corporate social responsibility. Organizations that dedicate themselves to renewal following crises have the potential to, with time, emerge from a crisis more steadfast, trustworthy, and resilient. 

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Practical Advice from Communicating about “Back-to-School Jitters”

As you read this, it's just a few weeks before youngsters head back to school after the summer break. Many young people happily anticipate the return to school, as they will be reunited with old friends. However, for some children, the first day of school is not happily anticipated, but rather is feared. For some, it may be the first time attending school away from home. Others might be going to a new school due to a change in family circumstances. Still others may be moving up to middle or high school. Any of these circumstances could be cause for great concern to the youngsters making the transition.

So, how can parents and other interested adult caregivers communicate with children to help them to make these important transitions successfully? I asked the communication experts and here is their advice…

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Friends Don't Let Friends Hook Up Drunk

photo - man and woman drinkingMany college students' social interactions revolve around alcohol and sex. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports the majority of college students drink, and approximately 40% of them drink excessively. Drinking fuels the so-called “hook-up” culture, whereby young adults engage in sexual activity (that may or may not include actual intercourse) with people they are not committed to romantically.
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Communicating Bad News with COMFORT

photo - doctor comforts patientThe doctor holds the test result and stares blankly at the patient. The science is clear, but what's unclear is how to tell the patient that life is coming to an end. How do you translate scientific jargon and statistical data into a direct and compassionate message? “There is no cure for your illness.”
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Home Is Where the Communication Is

photo - immigration guideToday, there are over 15 million refugees worldwide. According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, anywhere from 40,000 to 90,000 of them end up scattered all over the United States every year. A study with refugees shows that, in aiding their resettlement, we must take into account that their diasporic connections, or ties to their homeland and their ethnic group, are often important to them and that there are structural limitations that may prevent immigrants from communicating with the locals and adopting the host society as their new home.
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The Group Link

photo - group of young professionals in a meetingWhen an individual joins an organization, a relationship begins -- a relationship defined and created in communication. Relationships between members and organizations are linked to employee satisfaction, commitment, decision-making influence, and other important outcomes. But how does one communicate and maintain a sense of commitment and identification with something as intangible as an organization?
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Doctor-Patient Telecommunication

photo - Doctor coming out of laptop screenWe live in a world where technology is constantly changing. We are bombarded by the Internet and mobile technologies-including when we visit our doctors. As we use technology more and more to communicate, it is no surprise it would extend into the medical world and influence the way doctors and patients communicate. As a result, it becomes increasingly important to understand what makes the use of technology successful during medical interactions. Very generally, telemedicine is the exchange of medical information using technology. Storing medical records on a computer, e-mailing a doctor, and even video conferencing with a health care practitioner are all examples of telemedicine.
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Home Page | Welcome From the New Editor | BP's Crisis Communication: Finding Redemption through Renewal | Practical Advice from Communicating about “Back-to-School Jitters”  | Friends Don't Let Friends Hook Up Drunk | Communicating Bad News with COMFORT | Home Is Where the Communication Is | The Group Link | Doctor-Patient Telecommunication 
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