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The Phantom Gunman: responding to crisis in real time Presented to PRSA Buffalo Niagara Dr. Joseph Brennan, APR Sept. 23, ...
The context:  shooters on campus <ul><li>April 16, 2007: 32 killed at Virginia Tech. </li></ul><ul><li>Feb. 14, 2008: 5 ki...
What happened on Feb. 16, 2010 UBTV student news: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_OJlcs-KKM&feature=related Photo: Harry ...
Incident timeline:  the first hour <ul><li>4:03 p.m. - UB Police receive call of suspicious person; officer on site within...
First hour: supporting the operation <ul><li>Operational response </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Report was from a single individua...
Incident timeline:  second through fifth hours <ul><li>Ongoing - UB Police continue searching building; Amherst police mai...
Second through fifth hours:  proactively communicating <ul><li>Operational response </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No gunman found;...
Incident timeline: Second day <ul><li>6 a.m. – Brennan does taped interview with WNED-AM </li></ul><ul><li>7:25 - Live Lin...
Second day: defending the response <ul><li>Operations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Additional review of evidence and response </l...
Communications objectives <ul><li>Protect lives </li></ul><ul><li>Provide support to operational response </li></ul><ul><l...
Communications tasks <ul><li>Inform public to avoid library. </li></ul><ul><li>Inform public that classes and activities w...
Lessons learned:  what worked? <ul><li>We were generally effective at issuing public information. </li></ul><ul><li>Once w...
Lessons learned: where do we need to improve? <ul><li>Enhance responsiveness by adhering more closely to National Incident...
NIMS Incident Command System
Reducing turnaround time <ul><ul><li>Deploy immediately to the incident site. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prominently ident...
Improving message control <ul><li>Is it even possible in the age of social media and citizen journalism? </li></ul><ul><li...
Q & A Photo: Harry Scull Jr./The Buffalo News
Who was the phantom gunman? <ul><li>Yesterday, upon the stair, </li></ul><ul><li>I met a man who wasn’t there, </li></ul><...
Contact me <ul><li>Joe Brennan </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>716-645-4094 </li></ul><ul><li>This pre...
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University at Buffalo gunman on campus - communications lessons learned

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How one university's communications office responded to a critical incident. Presented to PRSA Buffalo Niagara.

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University at Buffalo gunman on campus - communications lessons learned

  1. 1. The Phantom Gunman: responding to crisis in real time Presented to PRSA Buffalo Niagara Dr. Joseph Brennan, APR Sept. 23, 2010
  2. 2. The context: shooters on campus <ul><li>April 16, 2007: 32 killed at Virginia Tech. </li></ul><ul><li>Feb. 14, 2008: 5 killed at Northern Illinois Univ. </li></ul><ul><li>Feb. 12, 2010: 3 killed at Univ. Alabama – Huntsville </li></ul>
  3. 3. What happened on Feb. 16, 2010 UBTV student news: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_OJlcs-KKM&feature=related Photo: Harry Scull Jr./The Buffalo News
  4. 4. Incident timeline: the first hour <ul><li>4:03 p.m. - UB Police receive call of suspicious person; officer on site within a minute. Search begins. </li></ul><ul><li>4:33 – Police request UB Communications (UBC) to issue campus alert, asking people to avoid library. </li></ul><ul><li>4:34 - Media hear police scanners; begin calling UBC. </li></ul><ul><li>4:40 – UBC begins sending alerts to campus via SMS, email, web. </li></ul><ul><li>5:00 – Camera crews arrive. UBC staff go to site, are turned back by police. Media begin reporting unconfirmed information. </li></ul><ul><li>5:30 - National media and parents begin calling UBC. </li></ul><ul><li>5:40 – Administration decides to cancel evening classes; instructs UBC to issue that news. </li></ul><ul><li>During the 5 p.m. hour – Employees and student journalists provide media with unconfirmed, speculative info. </li></ul>
  5. 5. First hour: supporting the operation <ul><li>Operational response </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Report was from a single individual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unconfirmed by other witnesses and video </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Police decide to search (abundance of caution) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Library has many entrances, nooks and crannies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communications response </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Support the operational response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t induce a panic; don’t reveal police details </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Incident timeline: second through fifth hours <ul><li>Ongoing - UB Police continue searching building; Amherst police maintain perimeter. </li></ul><ul><li>?? – Employee posts surveillance video on Twitter, showing police searching library basement </li></ul><ul><li>5:55 p.m. – UBC on site, begins working with media. </li></ul><ul><li>6:10 – Brennan gives first media briefing. </li></ul><ul><li>7:40 – UB Police conclude search; declare “all clear.” </li></ul><ul><li>8:15 – Brennan holds second media briefing. </li></ul><ul><li>9:30 – Police hief Schoenle holds final media briefing. </li></ul><ul><li>All evening – UBC issues SMS, email and web postings providing updates </li></ul>
  7. 7. Second through fifth hours: proactively communicating <ul><li>Operational response </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No gunman found; report remains unconfirmed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Incident concludes at 7:40 p.m. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communication response </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing accurate information to combat rumors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helping campus return to normal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WKBW-TV’s 11 p.m. news wrap-up of the incident: http://www.wkbw.com/news/local/84532857.html </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Incident timeline: Second day <ul><li>6 a.m. – Brennan does taped interview with WNED-AM </li></ul><ul><li>7:25 - Live Line interview on WBEN-AM morning news </li></ul><ul><li>9:05 – Live interview with Tom Bauerle </li></ul><ul><li>9:30 – Operational debrief </li></ul><ul><li>10:00 – UB Police Chief does media briefing </li></ul><ul><li>Throughout the day – Additional interviews with TV, radio and print outlets </li></ul><ul><li>WIVB-TV’s second-day coverage: </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/education/UBs-false-alarm-showed-preparedness </li></ul>
  9. 9. Second day: defending the response <ul><li>Operations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Additional review of evidence and response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debrief with emergency oversight committee </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Responding to second-guessing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing accurate information </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Communications objectives <ul><li>Protect lives </li></ul><ul><li>Provide support to operational response </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate accurate, timely info to stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce rumors and correct wrong information </li></ul>
  11. 11. Communications tasks <ul><li>Inform public to avoid library. </li></ul><ul><li>Inform public that classes and activities were cancelled. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide accurate info to news media and key publics. </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate that the incident has ended and situation is normal. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Lessons learned: what worked? <ul><li>We were generally effective at issuing public information. </li></ul><ul><li>Once we got positioned, we were effective in working with the news media. </li></ul><ul><li>We mitigated the risk of second-day “blame game.” </li></ul>
  13. 13. Lessons learned: where do we need to improve? <ul><li>Enhance responsiveness by adhering more closely to National Incident Management System (NIMS) procedures </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce communication turnaround time </li></ul><ul><li>Enhance clarity and accuracy through message control </li></ul><ul><li>Continue to improve our skills </li></ul>
  14. 14. NIMS Incident Command System
  15. 15. Reducing turnaround time <ul><ul><li>Deploy immediately to the incident site. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prominently identify PIO and staff. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce number of steps and people involved. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Directly connect the communications lead person with IC for confirmed facts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Observe a single chain of command. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhance technology for communications. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Improving message control <ul><li>Is it even possible in the age of social media and citizen journalism? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we move fast enough, with enough accurate information? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Q & A Photo: Harry Scull Jr./The Buffalo News
  18. 18. Who was the phantom gunman? <ul><li>Yesterday, upon the stair, </li></ul><ul><li>I met a man who wasn’t there, </li></ul><ul><li>He wasn’t there again today, </li></ul><ul><li>I wish, I wish he’d go away... - “Antigonish,” William Hughes Mearns </li></ul>
  19. 19. Contact me <ul><li>Joe Brennan </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>716-645-4094 </li></ul><ul><li>This presentation is available on Slideshare.com </li></ul>

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