Paracrisis (Greek "παρά", para-, “near” or “resembling,” + crisis) is an incident that resembles a crisis, because it threatens an organization’s reputation. Nevertheless, a paracrisis does not require crisis management activation and it does not have immediate impact on the organization. It has the potential to escalate to a real crisis only when neglected or mismanaged by the organization.
Social media and the emergence of “paracrisis”
The term was first proposed by Coombs and Holladay (2012), when they defined a paracrisis as “publicly visible crisis threat that charges an organization with irresponsible or unethical behavior.” There was a need to coil this new term because social media crises were often confused with the tradition crises, but they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.
While crises can start virtually anywhere, a paracrisis usually starts online, via a social media platform, such as Youtube, Twitter, blog posts, among others. It can start as a whistle-blowing, a customer’s complaint or simply a product review. And with the viral nature of social media, it is easier than ever for the first warning sign to increase exposure and turn into a popular conversation or online wildfire. With the social effect, a paracrisis hence changes how information is collected and processed. Crisis managers are expected to react even faster and more carefully with a paracrisis sign, to provide the stakeholders a quick and accurate response (Coombs, 2012).
The other difference of a paracrisis to a crisis is that it is hard to put a paracrisis to a specific stage. A crisis is usually defined by three discrete stages: precrisis, crisis, and postcrisis. This three-stage model is not associated with any theoris...
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