Critical Incident/Campus Emergency/Disaster Communication Procedures
Most likely, the Department of Public Safety will be the first to know of an incident. Once immediate on-site safety needs have been met, the incident commander will contact the Chief Communications Officer (CCO) if the incident: (1) poses a threat to the life, safety and health of those on campus (requires Clery communication); (2) will likely receive media attention; (3) could harm the reputation of the University; and/or (4) needs to be addressed with internal University audiences quickly to dispel rumor.
On those rare instances in which the life and health of people on campus is at immediate risk (active shooter, tornado warnings, for instance) the incident commander may decide without further consultation to alert people on campus about the danger.
With incidents that pose an immediate safety risk, the CCO will contact the Provost and others as necessary.
The CCO will assemble a communication task force if necessary. The following actions will be initiated based on the specific crisis.
- With incidents that pose an immediate threat to on-campus safety, the CCO first will direct the efforts to use the appropriate communications methods to alert campus of (1) the incident; and (2) the steps that should be taken to enhance personal safety.
- Designate a spokesperson based on the nature of the emergency. Global Marketing and Communications Public Relations (PR) will schedule all media interviews for the spokesperson. In some instances, it might be necessary to have additional spokespersons that are experts on the specific nature of the crisis situation.
- Prepare an immediate response that can be delivered within 10-20 minutes. Even if few facts are known, issuing a timely initial statement sends a message that the University is responding quickly and responsibly. Set a time for the next statement being released by the University.
- Draft a fact sheet.
- The fact sheet should answer who, what, when, where, why, and how the University is assessing the situation and/or responding. The CCO will determine what crisis information the University will disseminate.
- Identify key constituents for pre-media notification as appropriate. These might include:
- Law enforcement agencies (notified by the Department of Public Safety)
- Campus administrators
- Board of Trustees
- Mayor’s office(s)
- Monitor social media sites and launch the crisis web site providing timely updates.
- Alert the media (if they do not already know) and let them know if there is a press conference or the time when a statement will be made.
- Establish emergency communications command center (continue timely media and public briefing and updates).
- Create list of questions for the spokesperson and set meetings to review.
- Only the designated spokesperson(s) need to appear at the emergency communication
location for media comment.
- Once the emergency has been assessed, the University will issue a public comment. The University will communicate openly and often.
Crisis/Reputation Communication Procedures
These situations will be managed and monitored by the CCO and designated departments. Often, the initial inquiry will come from members of the media who already have sketchy details regarding the situation. The preferred method for handling most of these situations is to provide an accurate assessment of the situation and the University’s response.
- Public Relations will most likely get the first call from the media. During any level of emergency, media inquiries coming in to anyone else on campus should be directed to this office to ensure accuracy of information.
- Public Relations will assemble any previously compiled information regarding the situation and investigate the situation for up-to-date details.
- The CCO will alert the Provost and others as appropriate.
- Public Relations will then develop talking points to address the situation.
- Talking points will be provided to persons communicating with media and internal departments as needed.
- As the event unfolds, the CCO will keep the Provost and impacted parties updated.
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