Your crisis communications plan should serve as a reminder of potential dangers—and what to do if you can’t navigate around them.
Not all items on this list will present themselves as an emergency or rise to the level of a crisis.
Presidents and chancellors who survive crises admit when they need help and ask for assistance from trusted sources.
Similarly, the ability to know when to ask for help—and to actually ask for it—is critical to protecting key lines of communication, institutional credibility, political capital, campus relationships, and scarce resources.
Sometimes, consultants and others who are not intimately connected to the campus or the crisis itself are well positioned to provide clarity and help make difficult decisions or execute difficult tasks. In the throes of a crisis, it is tempting to shift your strategy in response to anecdotal feedback from board members, a small sampling of community members, or comments posted to news articles. Once you get the right gear on board and add the right people to the raft, your team should be well equipped to handle any crisis. Teresa Valerio Parrot is the principal of TVP Communications, a Colorado-based communications firm that works with colleges and universities. Types of crises– there are roughly ten categories of crises, including financial, environmental, and workplace.
Often the most overlooked section of crisis communications is assessing how your team responded to the crisis.
As your organization fleshes out its crisis communications plans moving forward, this step also allows you the chance to document media coverage and how on-par the published messages were with your organization’s stance. Depending on the scale of the response to the crisis, your organization may create a special report, complete with video and photos, if appropriate.
We are humans before we are communications professionals, and when crisis strikes it can be challenging to balance emotions with professional actions. The recent events of the past few days are an unfortunate reminder to all HR professionals and business leaders that natural disasters, power outages, and issues with transportation systems can emerge at any time and have implications on the workplace.
In HR, you must set and communicate the policies for your business, in collaboration with your business leaders and line managers, regarding how to handle crises and threats to your employees' safety and normal business operations, like inclement weather. Nonetheless, such policies are necessary and critical to ensuring the continuity of your business operations in a crisis, effectively communicating with employees, and ensuring consistent application of employment laws and other workplace policies.

Beyond policies, HR should play a critical role in developing and updating strategies for emergency planning, disaster recovery, and safety alongside business leaders to help ensure that employees and managers know how to respond should a crisis surface. Below are some tips for HR's role specifically in crisis planning and management, many of which are focused on communication.
Develop a plan regarding how your HR functions will operate during or after a disaster, including critical functions like payroll and employee communications. Identify roles during a crisis, such as important tasks that need to be completed before and after the crisis.
Keep leaders transparent and communicate to employees how leaders can be communicated with during the crisis.
After a disaster or crisis, meet with executives and even employees, review the disaster recovery plan, and identify opportunities for improvement for better plans in the future. Whether your organization was negatively affected by the recent storm or not, as HR professionals and business leaders, it's a good idea to revisit your communication and crisis management plans and practices, especially as winter approaches Northeast Ohio. ERC Preferred Partner SavingsERC Preferred Partner, Professional Travel works with organizations to create managed travel programs so that employees who travel can be located at any point in time. To successfully manage a crisis, you also need the right “gear.” Inventory your resources and verify that you have what you need to protect your institution’s image and reputation in times of crisis. Develop a list of crises your campus could face, and prepare to address them at a moment’s notice.
Institutions that have failed in crisis communications often have individuals within their campus community who act with the best of intentions but are unaware of the campus plan and therefore undermine its effectiveness.
Presidents who assess a crisis and react in ways that align with what they do well—and acknowledging what they do not do well—will always be in a good position to succeed. A national expert weighs in on how to manage a hazing incident or, better yet, stop one before it starts.Lessons from CrisesSome crises can catch even insurance firms by surprise. Having a representative from every department on the Crisis Communications team comes into play here. From internal and external stakeholders, be truthful, over-communicate knowing that the information that you share across different channels of communication will vary.
It may be a week or a year after the crisis, but your team needs to talk about what worked, what didn’t, and what it can do better next time.

By creating a crisis communications plan before you need it, your team will be poised to respond to the most difficult circumstances with grace.
In such circumstances, HR plays two pivotal roles as 1) policy developers and communicators and 2) crisis planners and managers. Consider the time that employees may need to take care of personal situations during a crisis.
Eventually, I realized I felt that way because I had been undertaking a similar pursuit for years in my work: crisis communications on college and university campuses. They are responsible for protecting the institution where it is most vulnerable during a crisis—in the court of law and the court of public opinion. Similarly, your communications counsel will ensure your messaging meets the expectations of your audiences. Don’t be afraid to plan for your greatest fears; doing so may keep you from failing to react properly in the crucible of an unfolding crisis. Keep your board, cabinet, legal counsel, and chief communications officer updated on potential crises. Unnecessarily adding too much emotion to a situation could inadvertently inflate it to crisis levels.
For example, a president serving as the public face of an institution is ideal, but other times deferring to a board member or a subordinate might serve everyone’s best interests.
Evaluate the communications supplies and tools needed, and identify the relationships you need to build before a crisis happens, to help ensure your message is heard. A crisis is not the time to make a situation revolve around you; a crisis response should keep the institution at the center. The time to build a team, partnerships, goodwill, and alliances isn’t when you need them most. Instead, define a core set of planned actions based on your organization’s competencies and different types of crises.

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