Guía Docente 2020-21


Id.: 31908
Subject type: OPTATIVA
Year: 4 Teaching period: Primer Cuatrimestre
Credits: 6 Total hours: 150
Classroom activities: 62 Individual study: 88
Main teaching language: Inglés Secondary teaching language: Inglés
Lecturer: Email:


The objective of this course is that the students become familiar with the way in which any organization should manage both issues and crises through communication. Crises are a phenomenon increasingly important in the life of any public or private organization. However, most of them are not prepared first of all, to prevent crises, and secondly, to give an appropiate response once they happen, and end up developing poor communicative strategies that may worsen the situation.

The best way to manage a crisis is avoiding it. This is the organizational philosophy of issues management: putting the effort on prevention and preparedness, not only on reaction after de crisis breaks out. Following this philoshopy, the course will focus both on knowing the tools to identify the potential risks of an organization in order to prevent them becoming a crisis; and also the communicative strategies to manage those issues which became a crisis.

At the end of the course, the student will be able to understand the relevance of preventive management of organizational crises (issues management); will become familiar with the stages in the life cycle of a crisis and its consequences for both crisis management and communication management; will be aware of the key role of communication in any crisis; will learn the communicative technics and tools in order to effectively communicate in a crisis; and will be able to evaluate critical processes.



General programme competences G01 Ability to analyse and synthesise.
G02 Problem solving.
G05 Teamwork.
G06 Interpersonal skills.
G07 Ethical commitment.
G08 Ability to work in an international context.
G09 Ability to apply knowledge.
G10 Ability to generate new ideas (creativity).
G11 Ability to undertake research.
Specific programme competences E01 Capacity and ability to work as professionals who take charge of the commercial communications and PR business policies.
E02 Capacity and ability to run the communications section in an organisation or company. Their work is based on establishing contacts with the various audiences, both internal and external, as well as the planning, control and management of the annual communications plan.on los diferentes públicos, tanto internos como externos, así como de la planificación, control y gestión del plan de comunicación anual.
E03 Capacity and ability to establish a communications plan: set the communications objectives, define the target audience, lay out the strategies and control the communications budget.
E08 Capacity to define and manage marketing, advertising and PR budgets for correct cost allocation. These disciplines and their corresponding activities within the business framework are those to which a professional trained in the field of advertising and public relations accedes.
E11 Capacity and ability to identify, value, manage and protect intangible company assets (identity, personality and corporate image), adding value to their products and services while reinforcing the reputation of the same.
E19 Exercise creative thought and put it to use in all sorts of situations habitually, given the expressive tenor - upheld by audiovisual and/ or discursive matrices - required of an especially dynamic and consolidated profession (advertising and/ or public relations). This is the result of persuasive parameter which requires the use of creative abilities by the agents involved in these activities.
E20 Capacity to adapt to organisational objectives: possibility to form part of management teams (the term being understood in the broadest sense of entrepreneurship and including institutional and non-profit activities) and adapt to their culture, making them compatible and also synergistic. Training a student in specific subjects for responsible management within the field of public relations optimises their imminent attachment to said professional teams, unleashing (being socially and humanly responsible) a series of management and leadership skills in the context of an organisation.
E21 Sufficient skill to undertake research projects related to corporate communications, marketing and advertising, as well as to apply the results of this research afterwards to the professional activity or any other such objectives.
E22 Ability to act freely and responsibly, assume ethical reference points, values and principles that are in line with the times; at the same time, understand the precepts that frame the legal system in the area of advertising communications law. This latter: responsible for analysing the regulatory limits which govern the advertising profession, examining not just personal duty but also the legal regime for messages being disseminated and the companies involved in this activity.
E23 Capacity to manage emotions, stress and frustration in the face of difficulties appearing in the pursuit of projects and professional goals within a professional sector - that of advertising and public relations - whose pursuit requires, on the one hand, continuous interchange of proposals between the professional and the client and, on the other, a clear link between the technical and human level within a heterogeneous network of agents who comprise an organisation.
E26 Capacity for economic and budgetary management in the different activity areas, bearing in mind the financial variants inherent in the profession - arising from the study and start-up of business initiatives within the professional advertising and public relations medium.
E27 Be able to take a creative view of the possibilities offered by the new technologies with regard to the construction of advertising strategy.
E28 Be able to anticipate trends and flows in the advertising industry and in marketing.
E32 Ability to understand the dynamics of mass media communications and the digital situation to correctly adapt public relations and corporate communications strategies.
Learning outcomes R01 Know the relevance of preventive management in organisational crises.
R02 Know the life cycle of a crisis and its implications for both management and crisis communications.
R03 Be aware and make others aware of the crucial importance of the role played by communications processes in any crisis.
R04 Master crisis communications techniques and tools.
R05 Scrutinise and anticipate critical processes, analysing their causes, mechanics and consequences.
R06 Have enough ability to react with effective communication in the face of a crisis.


Only students coming from degrees in the field of Communication will be able to register in this course.

Students will need to have a minimum B1 level in English in order to take this subject, as it will be taught entirely in English. 

NB:  As the majority of students will not be native speakers of English, teachers will support students through the process of learning through English.



Subject planning could be modified due unforeseen circumstances (group performance, availability of resources, changes to academic calendar etc.) and should not, therefore, be considered to be definitive. The definite date of the final exam will be published in the exams official calendar.

Subject contents:

    2.1 - What is a crisis? Definition and features
    2.2 - Issues and crises
    2.3 - The life cycle of a crisis
    2.4 - Types of crises
    3.1 - The culture of issues management
    3.2 - Risk measurement systems
    3.3 - The crisis plan
    4.1 - The role of communication in a crisis
    4.2 - Key aspects: audiences, message, spokesperson and media relations
    4.3 - Communication through the life cycle of a crisis
    4.4 - Main crisis communication strategies
    4.5 - Crisis communication and social networks

Subject planning could be modified due unforeseen circumstances (group performance, availability of resources, changes to academic calendar etc.) and should not, therefore, be considered to be definitive.


Teaching and learning methodologies and activities applied:

A communicative and cooperative approach to learning will be employed in the classroom. Students will be expected to participate actively in class by working individually, in pairs and in groups, working on exercises or case studies and reporting their answers, findings or opinions back to the class. Therefore, while perfection is not expected, some confidence to speak in English will be necessary.

Theoretical-practical classes: an important part of the classes will consist of combination of theory and practice. After the explanation of the theme by the lecturer, and guided by the lecturer, some examples and case studies will be analysed, in order to understand the applications and implications of the crisis communication concepts, strategies and techniques to a real landscape. Students are expected to take an active part and be proactive in the practical activities (asking and answering questions, suggesting examples, taking part in debates…).

Practical classes: there will be practical classes in which students will have to apply the acquired knowledge to real case studies, analysing current news examples (current and past crisis events), reviewing a film/ documentary, making presentations or taking part in debates, among others. Most of these activities will be evaluated as they are a part of the final mark.

Tutorials: the student can attend tutorials with the lecturer of the course during her office hours (the hours will be published in the PDU). It is recommended to send an email beforehand ( Her office is on the third floor in the School of Communication and Social Sciences.

Student work load:

Teaching mode Teaching methods Estimated hours
Classroom activities
Other practical activities 4
Lectures 26
Other theoretical activities 0
Case studies 10
Problem resolution and practical exercises 12
Debates 0
Projection of films, documentaries, etc. 6
Attendance at conferences 2
Other practical activities 0
Written exams 2
Individual study
Tutorials 8
Individual coursework preparation 6
Group cousework preparation 6
Compulsory reading 4
Individual tutorials 4
Self study 20
Preparation of individual assignments 24
Preparation of group work 0
Information and research tasks 16
Compulsory readings 0
Free reading 0
Written exams 0
Total hours: 150


Calculation of final mark:

Final exam: 40 %
Exercises: 30 %
Group assignment: 30 %
TOTAL 100 %

*Las observaciones específicas sobre el sistema de evaluación serán comunicadas por escrito a los alumnos al inicio de la materia.


Basic bibliography:

FINK, Steven: Crisis management. The definite guide to managing the message, McGraw-Hill Education, New York, 2013.

Recommended bibliography:

GRABER, Doris A.: The power of communication: managing communication in public organizations, CQ Press, New York, 2002.
COOMBS, Timothy and HOLLADAY, Sherry (eds.): The Handbook of Crisis Communication, Wiley-Blackwell, London, 2010.
HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL: Harvard Business Review on crisis management, HBS Press, Boston, 2000.
ANTHONISSEN, Peter Frans: Crisis communication: practical PR strategies for reputation management and company survival, Kogan Page, London, 2008.
FEARN-BANKS, Kathleen: Crisis communications: a casebook approach, Routledge, New York, 2011.
GRIFFIN, Andrew: Crisis, issues and reputation management, Kogan Page, London, 2014.
RUFF, Peter and AZIZ, Khalid: Managing Communications in a Crisis, Routledge, New York, 2016.
CORNELISSEN, Joep: Corporate Communication. A Guide to Theor and Practice, SAGE, London, 2008.

Recommended websites:

Cambridge dictionary
Oxford dictionary
The Institute for Crisis Management
The Issue Management Council
The Institute for Public Relations

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