Crisis Communication Tips
In the past decade, Universities in the US have received media mentions more for the campus violence than for any other issue. This not only gives the Institution a bad reputation but also makes the students wary and uncomfortable, making the campus not a conducive place for education.
The need of the hour is certainly effective communication and especially among the Institution leaders. They need to recover fast and respond quickly with effectual communication that would not only allay the fears of the student community but also give aid and support to the families who are watching the crisis unfold. The communication must also act as a stimulus that would foster confidence among the staff to stand together and weather the storm as it comes.
While some crises can be predicted, most of them take us by surprise. However, it is for these unforeseen crisis situations that one needs to be prepared.
Here are five communication tips that would help -
#1 Build a trusted communication team
Building a trusted communication team is a must for an Institution. This core team should comprise of level-headed individuals who can be trusted to communicate responsibly in the event of a crisis. Most often than not, during a crisis situation, individuals who have no idea about the campus’s position, act on impulse and represent it on media. This leads to miscommunication, negative marketing and controversies that the Institution can do without. To counter them, the Institution needs to identify and build a PR team that knows how to respond responsibly during any crisis. A good crisis team would also delegate roles and develop a plan of action and delegate responsibilities as the crisis develops.
#2 Map out potential responses
To be prepared in advance is the key to crisis communication. When a crisis is happening, and you are asked to explain or make sense of the situation, you will need to respond quickly and also responsibly because you will be representing the Institution here. It’s essential that you map out your responses for a variety of situations ranging from student disorderly behavior to dangerous crises like campus lockdown or shooting. If you have a list of communication mapped out in advance, you will not flounder in the presence of media.
#3 Assess the situation efficiently
It is important that the members of the core team assess the situation correctly and communicate accordingly. The message that they give during the crisis should be crafted carefully and must be effective enough to give confidence to all parties involved that they are handling the situation carefully. Media monitoring is yet another factor that needs to be done by the core team so that wrong information is not imparted to the people
#4 Using Social Media
Social media is an efficient tool that ought to be utilized during a crisis. One of the core team members should keep an eye on the Institution’s accounts and post messages that are appropriate as the situation develops. The team member should have adequate social media insight and poise to represent the Institution online.
#5 Being Compassionate
Any crisis within an Institution needs to be handled with empathy and compassion. Your messages, stance, position and intention will be subjected to scrutiny in the media monitoring. Therefore, whatever message or communication is being given out must be empathetic and understanding.
One can’t anticipate what crisis can strike us at all times but it is worth the effort to be prepared for one, nonetheless.