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An Analysis of the Communication Strategies

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An analysis of the Communication Strategies
of
Red Cross Society of China
during the GUO Meimei Crisis

This assignment is to analysis the effectiveness of the Red Cross Society of China’s (RCSC) crisis management and whether situational crisis communication theory can help RCSC or not. In 2008, there was a serious crisis which damaged the reputation of RCSC and now they still cannot restore their organization’s image – The Guo Mei Mei Crisis.

RCSC was founded since 1904 which is the largest charity in China with over 100-year history. Although RCSC is called “Red Cross Society”, RCSC is not be under the jurisdiction of International Red Cross, it is a member of International Committee of the Red Cross which have high degree of autonomy.[1] And Hong Kong Red Cross is belonged to RCSC. In the world, most of the Red Cross in other countries are independent organization but RCSC has a close relationship with Chinese government.

The Guo MeiMei Crisis happened in 2011 and brought an enormous harm to RSCS and also Chinese charities. Guo was a 20-year-old woman who claimed herself as a general manager of a company called Red Cross Commerce.[2] She always showed off her luxurious lifestyle on Sina Weibo, a social networking site, making the public questioned about the relationship of Guo and RCSC, also the doubt of RCSC’s corruption. Guo did not clarify herself until RCSC released official statement.

RCSC made a really slow response to the crisis. The crisis was happened on 20th June 2011, but RCSC gave out their statement 2 days after and the rumor had already uncontrollably spread like wildfire on net and in the communities. On 28th June, RCSC finally held a press conference to clarify the rumor and reported to the police. However, it was too late and the RCSC’s reputation had already become negative. The public did not trust RCSC anymore, resulted in a huge drop in donation. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, donation to RCSC was 10.5 Billion in the first half of 2011 and dropped 73.6% in 2012.[3] Even Li Na, the former professional tennis year of China, said she would not donate to RCSC because she did not believe it in the press interview. Media also reported this crisis as the largest crisis to RCSC and the Chinese charities.

Guo Meimei Crisis is a reputation crisis of RCSC. Based on the situational crisis communication theory, RCSC is the victim in the case since it is a rumor. If the crisis is a rumor, deny crisis response strategies should be used in order to protect the organization and stay away from the crisis. RCSC denied the relationship with Guo by sending out press release and holding press conference at the first time. However, the public thought that RCSC has a high attribution of the crisis because of the Chinese culture. People do not trust the organization as RCSC has low transparency and 7 of 10 RCSC’s vice presidents are Chinese high official[4], even they joined corruption or embezzlement, they can still survive. In order to increase positive reputational perception. RCSC used a secondary response strategies, bolstering, to remain the public their past work. In 2013 Lushan earthquake, RCSC appealed the public to help donating for the victims by Weibo immediately, hoping the public thought that RCSC is responsible and trustful charity, however, all their actions are failed to rebuild RCSC’s reputation again.

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