Crisis Communication at Virginia Tech, by Jeffery Douglas

This is the session that impacted me the most at PRSSA National Conference 2008. It is from the Communications Director of Va. Tech. during the time of the shooting crisis there in April of 2007.

“Facing an Emergency- A Tragedy of Monumental Proportion”

1. Plan
2. Establish a Command Center
3. Designate one Spokesperson
4. Manage Humanity of the event, involve the CEO/Director
5. Share only facts as confirmed
6. Assemble background and Contextual Facts
7. Target all Audiences

Organizing the logistics of media superstars and dealing with the demand of competing global media brands was a challenge. Media need a work room, a briefing room, truck logistics, internet access, campus access, and IT help.

Goals: Manage emergency, Stabilize community, and Resurrect University reputation

(Like I have said before…) Lack of Communication leads to not enough Trust and plenty of Blame.

Role of the Web- Information out for the public, using a timeline of all confirmed information. A window to the world, press conferences and information streamed online.

Positives: Better notifications on Campus’ nationwide, More counseling funded for University, and Events to bring students together.

Have confidence in your control of the situation. A calming confidence.

This is still a wound in the hearts of those who have any connections or information on the Va. Tech. crisis. As I have learned much from the situation, my heart goes out to those who are and were affected by it.


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