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Crisis Communication Simulation Exercise [Freberg]

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This was the crisis simulation exercise I provided instead of a midterm for my graduate crisis communications class [#FrebergGrads] at the University of Louisville.

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Crisis Communication Simulation Exercise [Freberg]

  1. 1. COMM 690 Crisis Communication Simulation Exercise You are currently working as a graduate student assistant for the Office of Communications and Marketing. The purpose of this internship is to give you an opportunity to work in public relations and communication marketing before graduating with your Master’s degree. You were brought in because of your previous work experience and your internships involving PR, marketing, and social media. In addition, you are currently enrolled into a crisis course for the semester and are interested in helping out with their efforts. Most of the responsibilities for the office are focused on the university activities, publicity, events, and engaging staff/faculty/students along with other members of the community. While reviewing their current communication plan, you notice they have not updated their crisis communications to follow the CDC’s CERC recommendations and social media trends. You also notice that they have not considered all potential crises or issues facing the university in their current crisis communications plan. As you head off to your graduate class, you check in on your respective social media platforms [Twitter] and you notice that two of your friends are sharing the news that they heard that they were not feeling well after eating at The Grille during lunch. Your friends mentioned they ate pizza for lunch and noted they have never gotten sick there before. With this new information, you feel like it is necessary to address this for your boss at the Office of Communications and Marketing just in case for their crisis communications plan. Your boss is out of the office already, and you feel you need to work on this to showcase what you have learned in your crisis class and take this opportunity to showcase your skills. However, you do get a text from your boss that this would need this immediately within the hour. You will need to create a Word document and this needs to be completed by 6:30 PM [NO EXCEPTIONS]. THIS IS THE INDIVIDUAL COMPONENT of the crisis simulation exercise, so no tweeting / texting / snapping / sharing with each other. You need to individually address the following: 1) In your opinion, do you feel that this is a crisis or an issue to handle? • What is the level of risk and possible scenarios to emerge as part of this crisis? 2) What are your initial actions steps in handling this crisis or issue? • Who are you going to reach out to and let them know this is happening? How will you do this? • What is the decision tree in communicating about this crisis to your crisis communication team? • Determine who will be part of this conversation and dialogue • What digital, social, and traditional media channels will you use and what will their role be in the case of a crisis or handling this issue potentially? 3) What is your situational analysis for this case? What are the strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats to this situation? 4) Before implementing response, what are some questions your team would want to get answers for? • What trainings would you have in preparation for handling this issue or crisis? • Who will you want to be part of your team? Who will be the main spokesperson? • What are some of the materials you will need to create ahead of this crisis or issue? • What are your key messages in addressing this situation possibly? What are some of the key issues that need to be addressed? • Create a primary messages you would want to communicate along with secondary message points. • What is your message template going to be in case this is going to happen. • What preventive and proactive steps will you include as part of your new additions to this crisis plan? o What are the CERC guidelines you will be incorporating with this?
  2. 2. o What is your initial evaluation of the social media channels and monitoring status for the Office of Communication and Marketing? What are some templates/messages/materials you think need to be created to address this? 5) Who are you targeting with your crisis response (ex. audiences to consider)? • Create a sample messaging plan on the key audiences, message strategies, and supported facts, along with the top 5 communication channel that matches up with the message and audience. [Can be a table format] • What is your messages development strategy for addressing these audiences based on current status of the relationship and delivery of the message?
  3. 3. Crisis Communication Simulation II Latest developments of this case. While taking a break from class, you get 5 voicemail messages from your boss. You find out that 10 students have reported being sick and displaying severe food poisoning symptoms. The students ate dinner at [restaurant] and immediately displayed these symptoms These students have been taken to the university Hospital for treatment at 6:15 pm tonight. You also found out that [restaurant] got a failing grade by the local health department for not following safety protocols with their food. The university has known about this for three days but did not say anything yet to the public. One of the main concerns involved the outdated cheese that was being used for the pizzas served along with two employees not following proper food safety protocols in their food preparation. In addition, there are some other challenges arising from these new developments. One of the ten students (a 17-year old freshman) was video recorded while standing outside throwing up. This video was initially posted on Instagram, but immediately was shared and reposted on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. A few students went on and stated that this looked like one of the symptoms of [], which has been covered exclusively in the news for the last few months. With this happening, rumors online flood the University social media platforms saying that is spreading on campus. The hashtag that was used along with this video was #SickStudents– which have since spread virally on social media and has become a trending topic locally on Twitter. The student who was videotaped went to social media and took a selfie with the hashtags while heading to the hospital. Bloggers, local traditional media outlets, journalists and news anchors, and others are actively talking about what is happening online. False information and rumors are spreading related to the cheese and social media users are starting to speculate who all is involved with this. Alumni, parents, and others are in a state of panic and are calling for action to be taken by the university. These audiences are flocking to social media and are generating the content through crowdsourcing sites and sharing that they are 1) not confident with the university as a source of information 2) spreading rumors and unconfirmed information about situation and 3) inconsistent information about the crisis – conflicting messages from company compared to local bloggers, reporters, and students/faculty/staff, and 4) The university as a whole is being presented in media (traditional and social) as being “unresponsive” and not caring of the seriousness of the this situation. Two teams: One team will be the crisis communication team for the university, and the other team will be journalists and bloggers involved to an exclusive media press conference addressing this situation and will be asking questions/live tweeting. Here are the two teams: TEAM ONE TEAM TWO
  4. 4. #TeamUniversity You all are part of the Office of Communication and Marketing at the university as interns, however, you are now expected to act as official members of the office in this crisis. The press conference begins in 30 minutes. We will come back to the conference room for the mock press meeting. You will need to write your statements, questions, and other materials down [add to the document but label it as Crisis Simulation II]. All of this information will be put in a Word document [not actually live tweeting this or sharing this online]. Plus, everyone who is part of the team needs to contribute to addressing this challenge. THIS IS A GROUP PART OF THE CRISIS SIMULATION, however, each of you needs to write these answers down and turn them in along with your individual document you have created in the first step of the crisis simulation exercise. At the end of the simulation, you will be asked to complete a peer evaluation of your group, your activities, AND the other group’s performance in the press conference. • Who will be on your team and what will be your roles? o EVERYONE needs to have an active role and part in this press meeting [active role and statement creations, strategies, brainstorming, etc]. o Who will be your main spokesperson? Who else will be part of your team and their titles/roles? o What will you provide in your crisis media plan / package for the journalists in this situation? o What materials will you each need to create? o What is the level of responsibility attributed to the university in this crisis? • Who are the main audiences that will be impacted by this situation? o How are you going to address them on the four claims being made online to this situation? o How are you going to address the journalists invited for this press conference? • Which message strategies will you use to communicate what is going on in this situation? o What message strategies will you use in addressing this crisis? o Propose materials you will use to provide the journalists and media invited to the press conference. o What media platforms / channels will be most appropriate to share updates, stories, and quotes from this crisis? o What are some new mediums to test and explore in relations to this crisis? o Formulate a formal statement and prepare Q&As to address with the key public and media. You will also need to determine how these messages will be communicated. [examples + platforms] • What messages are you expecting to hear from University on this case? o What are your empathy/sympathy statements going to be? What are your call to action statements? o What are some best practices you are going to implement? • What are questions you would want to have answered about this situation and you would expect University to state?
  5. 5. #TeamJournalists You represent local journalists and bloggers that cover not only the university, but the community as well. The press conference begins in 30 minutes. We will come back to the conference room for the mock press meeting. You will need to write your statements, questions, and other materials down. All of this information will be put in a Word document [not actually live tweeting this or sharing this online]. Plus, everyone who is part of the team needs to contribute to addressing this challenge. THIS IS A GROUP PART OF THE CRISIS SIMULATION, however, each of you needs to write these answers down and turn them in along with your individual document you have created in the first step of the crisis simulation exercise. • Who are the main audiences that will be impacted by this situation? o Who will be your main media contact? What title/role/publication will you present? o EVERYONE needs to have an active role and part in this press meeting [asking questions / putting together story angles / addressing points about situation, etc] • What are the key facts and story points you want to make sure that is addressed by UoL? o What do you anticipate the crisis message strategies are going to be from the university? o How are you going to address or explore the four claims being made about the university online to this situation? o How would you respond to these crisis message strategies by the university? o Who do you think they will put as part of their crisis team? Explain. o What are some key facts and additional points of information you feel that need to be addressed by University in this situation? o Which media tools will you use? o What media platforms / channels will be most appropriate to share updates, stories, and quotes from this crisis? o What are some new mediums to test and explore in relations to this crisis? • What are your concerns about getting this information out to your audience members? o What are going to be some main things you will want to ask the university? o How will you report this? o Who else would you want to talk to or reach out to about this situation from the community / region / national? o What messages are you expecting to hear from University on this case? o What are questions you would want to have answered about this situation and you would expect University to have statements for?

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