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Advanced Crisis Communication Certificate Program

Effective crisis communication can help organizations maintain trust, inspire confidence and build competitive advantage. 

And the pandemic, the great resignation and political polarization have made the need for effective crisis communication even greater. Increasingly, public relations professionals are being seen as more than communicators, but as business problem solvers who can help their clients navigate the challenges of maintaining the trust of stakeholders.

Designed as an on-demand certificate of completion program, PRSA’s Advanced Crisis Communication Certificate Program will equip communicators with an easy to-use framework to plan for foreseeable crises, as well as prepare you to communicate quickly when the unforeseen occurs.

This Certificate Program is designed for:

    • Senior-level PR and communication professionals.
    • Professionals who are responsible for corporate reputation.
    • Professionals responsible for managing a corporate communications team.
    • Leaders charged with advising leaders, lawyers and other executives.
    • Professionals responsible for managing digital communications.
    • Risk management professionals.
    • Communication leaders with eight or more years of experience.

    By the end of this certificate program, participants will have learned how to:

    • Understand the most effective mindset for guiding organizations through crisis.
    • Determine how to get buy-in from non-communicators, including CEOs and other business leaders.
    • Explain the power of decision criteria in managing and mitigating risks.
    • Define how to work collaboratively with lawyers and how to manage the sometimes-conflicting priorities of lawyers and communicators.
    • Understand the dynamics and effective ways to counter crises in which your organization is targeted by adversaries, critics, and others.
    • Evaluate the dynamics and challenges of mass casualty events.



     Full Course
    (All 6 Modules)
    PRSA Members$975$195


    Learning Modules in this Course

    Click on the titles below to read more about each module.

    Module 1
    It’s Never About Us; It’s Always About Stakeholders

    In this module we cover the mindset of leadership necessary to navigate crises effectively. One of the common elements of failed crisis response is leaders who make decisions based on personal preference — and fear, shame, anger or denial. Using the proper mindset leads to better outcomes. And that mindset is all about the affected stakeholders. Often those stakeholders feel victimized. We cover the predictable needs of victims, and how to prevent or resolve their feeling of victimhood.

    By the end of this module, participants will be able to:

    • Explain the power of patterns and pattern recognition.
    • Discern why decisions based on personal preference make crises worse.
    • Understand the needs of victims.

    Module 2
    Getting Executive Buy-In

    In this module we cover why executives are so often reluctant to follow their PR advisers’ counsel, and default instead to lawyers’ advice or their own personal preference. Here we cover the causes of PR advisers’ marginalization and cover five strategies to break out of that marginalization.

    By the end of this module, participants will be able to:

    • Discover why so many executives fail to follow their PR people’s advice.
    • Determine strategies to become a trusted adviser.
    • Define the true strategic contribution of PR people in a crisis.

    Module 3
    Taking Risks Seriously

    In this module we cover ways to understand risk in a crisis. Leaders understand crises in terms of risk to the enterprise: to financial condition, operations, stock price and other measures of competitive position. PR people need to be conversant in the language of risk, risk management and risk mitigation. Taking risks seriously requires understanding the tradeoffs among different possible courses of action and prioritizing which risks take precedence over others.

    By the end of this module, participants will be able to:

    • List the reasons why leaders focus on risks.
    • Determine how to map and prioritize risks.
    • Explain the disproportionality of risk over time.

    Module 4
    Negotiating With the Lawyers: Balancing Legal and Reputational Risks

    In this module we will cover how to navigate the natural tension between communication counsel and lawyers. It will focus on strategies for communicating in ways that promote open communication while protecting clients and employers from legal liability.

    By the end of this module, participants will be able to:

    • Determine what is the lawyers’ perspective.
    • List areas of common ground to be found.
    • Analyze how to work well with lawyers.

    Module 5
    Being Prepared: Foreseeing the Foreseeable and Managing the Unforeseen

    In this module we’ll focus on readiness and introduce an effective way to prepare for foreseeable crises. It includes a planning tool for being fully prepared when high-impact foreseeable crises occur. We also will focus on ways to effectively process an unforeseen breaking crisis. This includes using the same tool, but in the moment rather than in advance of the crisis.

    By the end of this module, participants will be able to:

    • Recognize foreseeable crises.
    • Process and respond to the unforeseen.
    • Develop a planning process for both the foreseen and the unforeseen.

    Module 6
    When the Whole World Is Watching: The Challenges of Mass Casualty Events

    In this module we cover the particular challenges of mass casualty events — terrorist attacks, mass shootings, tornadoes, floods, etc. — when the nation’s or the world’s news media descend upon an organization. We will cover ways to prepare, the challenges of continuous media interest and media intrusions, and ways to harness resources effectively.

    By the end of this module, participants will be able to:

    • Analyze the challenges of sudden, fatal events.
    • Determine the steps needed to prepare mentally and operationally.
    • Manage the media feeding frenzy.

    Course Length

    Course Duration: Approximately 5–6 hours
    Module Duration: Approximately 45–60 minutes



    Participants with the APR credential earn 0.5 renewal CEUs for each completed module of this course, for a total of 3.0 CEUs. Learn more about Accreditation.

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