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Crisis Communications & The Media Cindy Campbell, Associate Director University Police Department California Polytechnic State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Crisis Communications & The Media Cindy Campbell, Associate Director University Police Department California Polytechnic State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Crisis Communications & The Media Cindy Campbell, Associate Director University Police Department California Polytechnic State University

2 Crisis Planning…in Parking? When a crisis happens: Campus resources will be immediately overwhelmed Lines of Communication may be severely limited (radios, phones, internet access) The faster you can return your campus to normal operations, the quicker you begin the recovery process

3 Case Study: Virginia Tech April 16, 2007 “Totally under-prepared” “At the time, there was no established line of communication between Parking & Transportation and University Public Relations.”

4 Case Study: Virginia Tech - Richard McCoy, Parking Manager, VT “At the time…we realized that no media plan existed.” “The media WILL be here. They will be of some benefit.”

5 Case Study: Virginia Tech 100s of state and federal law enforcement vehicles unintentionally exacerbated the parking and traffic situation on campus.

6 Case Study: Virginia Tech 350+ News outlets and the satellite trucks quickly overwhelmed campus parking operations.

7 Case Study: Virginia Tech Must prepare for numerous grief activities and to support the “special needs” of victims and VIPs.

8 Case Study: Virginia Tech Day One Crisis Management: No communication could be established with Campus Police Dismissal of Campus Personnel - Removed operational managers from decision loop “Campus roadways were in gridlock” – no movement and no parking staff could help due to lack of radio communication

9 Case Study: Virginia Tech Day Two – Week Two: “Grief Activities” Observations & Lessons Learned: Need a coordination meeting at the beginning of Day Two Have a Media Parking Plan in place (written guidelines) Enhanced coordination & communication between P&T and local Police agencies Prepare for numerous off-campus mourners & sightseers to want to be at “grief site” Prepare to receive large number of unexpected and sporadic “grief volunteers”

10 Case Study: Virginia Tech (“Grief Activities”, Cont.) Hosting an event with the President of the United States will halt support to everything else. Identify a location to stage a large number of personnel and vehicles for support of main campus (i.e. airport) Deploying a liaison to non-university agencies (i.e. transit) was helpful Deploying a liaison to university public relations department can be useful

11 Why crisis communications matters Panic and lack of planning will exacerbate any problem. Remember… Lives may be at risk Fallout can affect the entire campus Effects may not be short term

12 Preparing for the impossible Develop communications strategies Develop scenario planning (with worst case scenarios) Have designated personnel to handle crisis communications Build media awareness at all levels within your organization

13 Everyone’s got a GOAL The Media wants/needs TWO things: Access and Communication Our campus wants/needs: To maintain a reasonable flow of traffic The ability to access campus buildings Access to campus roadways and buildings for emergency responders Access to campus walkways

14 Common Sense Guidelines Anticipate Acknowledge Articulate & Communicate Do the right thing, and be seen doing it Be assertive & open No “no comment” (gives the impression that you have something to hide)

15 Common Sense Guidelines Monitor what the media is saying: How it is reported, by whom, how often, qualitative as well as quantitative, ask around, read online as well as print/television Engage with journalists: Careful, honest discussion vs. “Sales Job” Remember: There is no such thing as “Off the Record” Will the press know the boundaries?

16 Common Sense Guidelines Try to understand, THEN respond. -You don’t talk to the reporter to get rid of their questions, you talk to them to reach your INTENDED AUDIENCE. No knee jerk reactions, no set pieces, no stock comments - Don’t give anyone an opportunity to question your sincerity OR your authority Train personnel - the media WILL get answers, make sure they are YOURS - “I will have to get the answer and get right back to you.” Brief Superiors & Campus Communications Team - Keep them in the loop as much as you can

17 Media: Friend or Foe? Neither - they are impartial, and have to be The reality of impartiality: NOT! Media is intensely oppositional (ex. Investigative reporting) Media shapes public opinion - “Parking Nazi’s”, “Pariah”, or… are you… ”Service Providers”, “Parking Services” Before a Crisis: Regular interaction with the media as opposed to response driven interactions - situation reports, updates on projects, positive human interest stories Engage! (and keep a record of all interactions…)

18 First 24 hours Create an internal operations center – hotline (if necessary), key personnel, equipment, access to people & information, open lines of communication. When formulating responses: 1.Understand the issue 2.Recognize the potentials/positions 3.Address the issue

19 What’s in a Message? Communicate: –Core values (vision, mission) –Reputation (Services, History) –The reasons behind the action (why it is important) –Safeguards taken and due diligence measures –YOUR KEY MESSAGE –Admit any wrongdoing AND what measures will be taken for redress, –Within what time frame, and led by whom –Contact information (phone(s), fax, , webpage)

20 Do you respond at all? Will it blow over? No response = Assumption of Accuracy? Respond accordingly - response based on media monitoring, consulting superiors and campus communications team

21 The Good…The Bad...and the Ugly… Share it! What’s happened at your campus? What went well? What will you handle differently NEXT time?


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