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  • 1. Generic College Crisis Communication PlanDepartment of External Relations and Crisis ManagementDate of Development: November, 2011Date of Last Revision: November 27, 2011Developed by: Lindsey Landolfi
  • 2. Table of Contents1. Purpose, Intent2. Crisis Defined3. Scope4. General Objectives a. Prepare for Crisis b. Organized Communication Plan c. Review Effectiveness and Install Improvements5. Public Relation Objectives6. Pre-Crisis Preparation Steps a. Selection of Spokesperson b. Selection of Information Manager c. Selection of Communication Channels d. Employee Crisis Communication Training e. Gather Contact Information f. List of Leaders g. Distribute Crisis Communication Plan7. During Crisis a. Where to Direct Crisis Inquiries b. Assessment of Situation c. Preparation for Public Release d. Release of Information to Publics e. Continuing Communication f. Conclusion of Crisis8. Review of Crisis & Improvements to Plan9. Appendixes a. List of Roles and Contact b. List of Communication Channel c. Information Collection Form d. Sample Press Release 2, Landolfi
  • 3. 1. Purpose, Intent;The procedures outlined in this document provide a flexible guideline to assist in crisispreparation and response. The plan is designed to foster timely and successful emergencyresolutions for a variety of crisis situations specifically to; a. To prevent rumors during a crisis; i. Rumors during a crisis can lead to false information being acted upon, a sense of distrust for the college or authorities, and endanger the safety of those involved in the crisis. b. To protect public and employee safety; i. The safety of the public and of college employees is paramount. A clear chain of command and clear spokesperson is necessary to convey messages. c. To protect confidence and trust in the college; i. If the public and employees are to follow the instructions of the person in charge of the crisis they must have confidence that the college is working for their best interests.2. Crisis Defined;“Organizational crisis is a low-probability, high-impact event that threatens the viability of theorganization and is characterized by ambiguity of cause, effect and means of resolution, as wellas by a belief that decisions must be made swiftly.” Center, S., Broom, A., & Cutlip, G. (1999). Effective public relations. Lebanon, Indiana: Prentice Hall.3. Scope;This policy is applicable to all Generic College employees and at all Generic College locations.Designated authorities will specify the levels of involvement for each location, department, orpersonnel depending on the crisis scenario. 3, Landolfi
  • 4. 4. General Objectives; a. To prepare for a crisis; i. Preparing for a crisis should be done well ahead of any possible crises, it will assists with rapid crisis response and resolution. Preparation should be done by the team outlined in the Disaster Recovery Plan. b. To establish an organized communication plan during a crisis; i. The Generic College Crisis Communication Plan is organized as a set of steps, or an outline to be followed during the crisis. It should be used as a guide during the crisis but the steps may not be appropriate in all situations. It is up to the Spokesperson and Backup Spokesperson to decide if the steps outlined will not meet the intended purpose of the guide and make changes where necessary. c. Review effectiveness of the plan and improvements for future; i. The Generic College Crisis Communication Plan is a living document and should be reviewed annually for updates in technology, social changes and/or legal changes.5. Public Relations Objectives; a. To mitigate and limit any negative reputational, financial, or legal damages to Generic College while resolving the emergency crisis. i. To uphold an image of credibility with the public. ii. To maintain investor confidence. iii. To keep the public informed. 4, Landolfi
  • 5. 6. Pre-Crisis Preparation Steps; a. Selection of Spokesperson and Backup Spokesperson; i. The selection of a Spokesperson and Backup Spokesperson (to take charge should the primary spokesperson be unavailable) shall be made prior to a crisis. A Generic College executive with prior PR experience and an open communications approach is recommended. These spokesmen shall be made aware of their role in the event of a crisis and possess excellent oral and written communication skills. The duties of the Spokesperson and Backup Spokesperson will be to work with the person in charge of the crisis as outlined in the Disaster Recovery Plan and directly interface with the public to provide guidance during the crisis. b. Selection of Information Manager and Backup Information Manager; i. Information managers duties will be to collect, organize, time/date stamp and disseminate information that is gathered from multiple sources. The Information manager will report this information not just to the spokesperson but to others listed in the Disaster Recovery Plan. c. Selection of Communication Channels; i. A selection of communication channels shall be made and kept on file, including any persons in or outside the college required to access the communication channel (ex. a reporter for a news outlet) 1. Pop-up desktop alerts 2. Pagers/cell phones/SMS 3. Generic College Crisis Communication phone line (1888-222-1234) 4. Generic College Website & E-mail system 5. Generic College Loudspeaker/Paging system 6. Public access news outlets (ex.TV/Radio/Newspapers) 5, Landolfi
  • 6. ii. The selection of each medium and media vehicle will depend on a cost- benefits analysis. Depending on the target audience and desired message the efficiency and effectiveness of each medium and vehicle is evaluated and the budget will be properly allocated to the chosen communication channels iii. Regularly monitor communication systems to ensure that they are functioning properly.d. Training on Crisis Communication for Employees; i. All employees shall receive mandatory training upon hire and periodic refresher training every 3 years on the proper ways to communicate during a crisis. ii. Designated spokespeople shall receive additional media training. 1. Conduct internal rehearsal media sessions in order to prepare the spokespeople to successfully engage in question based media relations ex. press conferencese. Gather Employee and Student Contact Information; i. Upon hire or student registration the contact information shall be collected for employees and students and kept on file. This information will be kept with other information protected in the Disaster Recovery Plan to ensure it is accessible in the event of a crisis. ii. Contact information shall be updated on a regularly scheduled basis. 6, Landolfi
  • 7. f. List of Leaders during a Crisis; i. A list will be maintained in the Disaster Recovery Plan on contact information on those who will be in charge of a crisis. The list will define the individual responsibilities of each leader during crisis response. If different people will handle different types of crisis maintain a table of which person will handle which crisis. Refer to the Disaster Recovery Plan. g. Distribute the Generic College Crisis Communication Plan to those who will deal with crisis, Spokesperson, backup Spokesperson, Information Manager and backup Information Manager7. During Crisis a. Have all personnel direct inquiries to the spokesperson; i. No person who is not authorized should release information. ii. No information is to be released "off the record". iii. Internal and external call-logs with contact information and the purpose of the call should be kept on file during a crisis in order to assist in an incident organized response and evaluation. b. Assessment of situation; i. Gather time/date stamped information on the crisis from the information manager ii. Communicate with legal department for potential legal pitfalls ie. liability issues. Favor public safety over legal caution. 7, Landolfi
  • 8. iii. Determine scope/severity/population levels affected; 1. One classroom, one building, whole campus 2. One student, group of students, entire student population iv. Determine best course of action for the public (if appropriate) 1. Contact appropriate publics in priority order v. Determine if the public or media should be allowed on campus; 1. Dependent on the scope and severity of the incident the public and/or media should be welcomed on campus and provided a chance to gather information. 2. All efforts should be made to shelter students, employees and victims (if any) from invasive reportingc. Preparation for Public Release of Information; Designated specialists should prepare public relations communication tools for internal and external distribution for example, press releases and video news releases. i. Determine what facts should be publicly released; 1. Withhold private information on legal proceedings/personnel/students except in situations where the release of this information is vital to the safety of the public and employees. 2. Withhold information on the condition or identity of victims until the family has been notified. 3. Release information on only what is relevant to that part of the crisis that the public needs to know. 8, Landolfi
  • 9. d. Release of information to key publics; i. Initial release as soon as possible once facts are verified 1. The spokesperson should make an initial release as quickly as possible. Any delay in releasing information may allow time for rumors to spread and distrust for the college to form 2. Have a prepared statement to use when generating the initial public response. (ex. a sample press release) ii. Use pre-established communication channels; 1. The designated specialists should respond to and update the media. The spokesperson may decide that an alternative communication channel will be more effective than the pre-established options, but should carefully consider the pros and cons to utilizing a new untested and unproven channel. iii. Assure public that leadership is appropriately remedying the situation 1. Assure the public that the person in charge of the crisis is dealing with the situation and the safety of the public is the highest concern for the college. 2. Keep the public calm, enforce order, and maintain confidence in Generic College and its leadership. a. Address issues through the public perspective placing the public’s health safety first. iv. Honest and timely dissemination of information; 1. Release times/dates on all facts a. Use times/dates when releasing facts or events to prevent rumors over duplicate crises or misinformation. 9, Landolfi
  • 10. b. Meet the need of the media; be mindful of news/media deadlines during information deliverance. 2. Present information in a clear format to the public that needs to know a. All releases should be worded clearly and remove as much ambiguity as possible. b. Convey a unified voice to the public by projecting a coordinated public relations campaign and intergraded marketing communications.e. Continuing communication as the crisis progresses; i. Ensure constant communication internally between involved crisis resolution parties. 1. Spokesperson gets information directly from person in charge of the crisis and information manager ii. Reinforce unified and constant messages with external publics through various Medias. iii. Continual assessment of the crisis; 1. Scope of impact to public/employees/students 2. Effectiveness of communication channels used 3. Effectiveness of information releasedf. Conclusion of Crisis; i. Final public statement of resolution ii. Release of any remaining relevant information 10, Landolfi
  • 11. 8. Review of Crisis and Improvements to Plan;Within two weeks of the conclusion of the crisis, the team responsible for crisis communicationshall hold a post-crisis meeting to determine the effectiveness of the plan and make anyimprovements to the plan. a. Evaluate the effectiveness of selected communication channels; i. Were the communication channels accessible during the crisis? ii. Were the facts/instructions distributed to the communication channels retransmitted accurately? iii. Was there a significant delay between distribution of facts/instructions to communication channels and transmission over the communication channels? iv. Did the public/employees receive the message over the communication channels or did they favor a different communication channel? b. Evaluate the effectiveness of facts/instructions released; i. Did the facts released provide the information they needed to be safe? ii. Were any of the facts/instructions misconstrued or lead to confusion? c. Evaluate the effectiveness of the spokesperson; i. Was the spokesperson or backup spokesperson able to clearly assess the situation? ii. Was the spokesperson able to keep the public calm? iii. Did the spokesperson work well with the person in charge of the crisis? d. Evaluate the effectiveness of departmental and personnel involvement and the coordinated efforts of various involved parties. For example, the communication between spokesperson and person in charge of crisis 11, Landolfi
  • 12. e. Install recommended improvements to plan; i. Installed precautions will help to prevent the reoccurrence of negative issues experienced while following the Crisis Communications Plan. 12, Landolfi
  • 13. Appendix A - List of Roles and ContactsRole Name Phone AddressPrimary Spokesperson First Last 443-888-0000 123 My Street, City, STATEBackup Spokesperson First Last 443-888-1111 123 My Street, City, STATEPrimary Information First Last 443-888-2222 123 My Street, City, STATEManagerBackup Information First Last 443-888-3333 123 My Street, City, STATEManagerPrimary Crisis First Last 443-888-4444 123 My Street, City, STATECommanderPrimary Facilities First Last 443-888-5555 123 My Street, City, STATEContactComputer Systems First Last 443-888-6666 123 My Street, City, STATEAdministrationAppendix B - List of Communication ChannelsChannel Contact Name Contact Phone Contact E-MailCollege Website Jim Fowler 443-888-6666 jimfowler@college.eduE2Campus Text Dave Tarkin 1-800-555-5678 support@e2campus.comMessagingChannel 13 News Chris Pumphery 410-987-6543 cpumphery@wjz.com 13, Landolfi
  • 14. Appendix C - Information Collection FormDate: Time: Source:Subject:Information:Received By: 14, Landolfi
  • 15. Appendix D - Sample Press ReleaseHeadline - -Sub-headline in a sentence format.DATEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECITY, STATE --A (clear and concise incident description) occurred at Generic College involving (crisisparticipants) today (date) at (time).Additional incident related information will be featured in supporting paragraphs (approximately4-6 paragraphs). If possible, use direct quotes from crisis spokespeople.The incident is under further investigation; all pertinent information will be released to the publicas it becomes available.Generic College synopsis (approximately one paragraph).For media inquires please contact:Name: First LastEmail: first.last@GenericCollege.eduPhone: 443-888-0000Web site: www.GenericCollege.edu 15, Landolfi