For the Crisis Communication Problem-solving Report, you will play the role of an engineering communications consultant working with the Volkswagen Corporation explain in clear and understandable English to stakeholders, a review of how well VW handled the DieselGate crisis, and then you will make recommendations for moving forward. The deliverable to stakeholders (and for this assignment) will be a Crisis Communication Problem-solving Report.
1. Read the Schuetz (2019) “Dieselgate – Heavy Fumes Exhausting the Volkswagen Group” case provided in your course pack. Use the information in this case to develop an understanding of important aspects of how VW handled managing communication during the Dieselgate crisis. Once you have an understanding of the case, you are ready to assume your role as the engineering communication consultant:
a. You are in the immediate aftermath of the first few weeks of communication failures, and mistakes have occurred, but some might be redeemed.
b. You plan to advise the Board of Directors (your stakeholders) of the mistakes that have occurred, how they occurred, and what the best course of action should be moving forward. In other words, you are going to help them dig out of the hole they have dug and help prevent further missteps.
c. In addition to analyzing what’s gone wrong and helping them chart a course to a successful conclusion of the crisis, you need to establish credibility and bring in outside expertise–in addition to your own ideas and evaluation–so they can make the best possible choices.
2. Conduct research on the issue of crisis communication as it relates to businesses and corporations. Your research will be your ‘outside expertise’.
a. Read Coombs (2015), “The Value of Communication During A Crisis.”
NOTE: Use your research to find best practices, recommendations and principles for effective crisis communication, and summarize them for your audience. You must present the knowledge obtained in your research and apply it to the situation. Whether you are counseling them to prevent making mistakes, or stop making mistakes, or clean up the mess after the mistakes are made, or learn from others’ mistakes, you are not just speaking from your own experience. You are calling, in effect, expert witnesses to testify how best to communicate to a company’s stakeholders when a crisis occurs.
3. Based on your research (or ‘outside expertise’), on your own knowledge, and on the case details provided, analyze what went wrong with VW’s communication strategy during the crisis and form solutions for moving forward.
4. Produce a research report that explains the communication problem and presents your research-based solutions and implementation plan.
a. Consider your audience, where you are in the time line of the disaster and its aftermath, and what stakeholders will be affected by the Board of Directors’ actions.
b. For specific details of what to include in your report, refer to the Crisis Communication Problem-Solving Final Report Instructions .
c. Use the Crisis Communication Problem Solving Report Template .
d. Your report should be approximately 2,400 words for all components and should be presented in typed pages, using headings and lists to organize your report.
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