Crisis planning is essential. I sat down with Brendan Schneider to record a podcast and discuss guidelines for schools on designing a crisis communications plan.
As a former director of marketing and communications at several independent schools, I have witnessed several tragedies up close. I have dealt with guns on campus, deaths of students, and a school name-change that did not go as expected. These are issues that have serious consequences, if not handled quickly and effectively with the proper follow through and advanced planning. Far too often, I have heard from communication professionals, who need to refresh their crisis plan, review it for the first time in years, or have one designed. The fact is that crisis planning is NOT fun. It is not something that anyone wants to make time to rehearse. But, when a problem strikes, it can be handled well and extinguished to the best of our abilities…or it can become a crisis that takes a lot longer to resolve. In other words, something that must be planned for in advance.
I’ll give two reasons for planning ahead:
- The Board of Trustees has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that there is a detailed and effective crisis plan in place. If for no other reason, a crisis can cause fiscal damage to the school’s operations (loss of reputation and enrollment disruption). So, the Board must ensure that it is addressing a crisis in advance and to the best of its abilities.
- Trying to handle a crisis while it’s going on is guaranteed to produce errors. There are too many unexpected details that will show up and too many parents and employees that panic, especially when children are involved and emotional.
Spend a few minutes listening to this podcast on crisis planning. Share the link with someone who should be planning their school and non-profit’s crisis communications and management…in advance.