Office of Communications & Marketing Crisis Communication Plan
Guidelines for Communications Decisions:
- Always be forthright and timely in communications with the university community, the media and the public at large.
- Decisions regarding communications must be guided by due concern for the right to privacy, personal security, legal liability, and the public's legitimate right to be informed.
- Above all, public safety should be the first concern.
Once the EDRP has been put into effect and the EOC has been implemented the following should occur concerning a crisis on campus:
1. A crisis management team (CMT) comprised of all EOC members, the Communications & Marketing Director, the Dean of Students and the Campus Police Chief will convene at the Emergency Operations Center.
- The Director of University Police and staff is responsible for notifying and convening the CMT.
- COMMUNICATION TOOLS: Each member of the CMT now has a digital mobile phone in case phone service is interrupted. Be careful and aware that conversations can be picked up and monitored with other devices.
2. The CMT will decide on an official crisis spokesperson and an alternate. The designated spokesperson will speak for everyone. As the emergency diminishes, the spokesperson's role can be assigned to someone else, but at least in the initial stages of the emergency, all inquiries and questions should be referred to the spokesperson.
3. CMT members will begin to notify families of those affected by the crisis (if applicable).
- IMPORTANT that families hear of injured or affected before the media does.
4. All media and public inquiries will be referred without comment to the CMT spokesperson or the Office of Communications & Marketing. Only the official spokesperson and alternate will articulate the university's position upon the authorization of the President or the CMT.
5. The Office of Communications & Marketing will take the information provided by the spokesperson and begin disseminating the information to the campus community then the media, and then the public at large.
6. The CMT and/or its spokesperson MUST be kept abreast of all details of the emergency. The most important questions needing to be answered are:
- What happened?
- When did it happen?
- Were there any injuries?
- Who/What was affected? Relationship to campus?
- Who/What was responsible? Relationship to campus?
- What was the cause?
- What went wrong?
- How much damage occurred?
- What is the approximate cost of the damage?
- Is more damage possible or expected?
- What information has already been released (media, police reports, hospital records, etc.)
- When will more information be available?
- What is the university's response?
- What processes or procedures have the university implemented to help?
- What are the existing policies at the university that dealt with the crisis?
Because most of these questions will have to be answered by someone on site of the emergency, it is most likely that a campus police officer will relay this information to the spokesperson. The two must maintain contact throughout the ordeal. The spokesperson must also maintain contact with the Office of Communications & Marketing to ensure that information is disseminated quickly and accurately.
- Communications & Marketing should have on hand a manual typewriter, carbon paper, legal pads, pens in case of power outages.
1. The Office of Communications & Marketing will begin disseminating information to the campus community via:
- university website homepage
- broadcast e-mail to university faculty, students and staff
- text alert
- appropriate social media outlets, including university's official Facebook page
- an announcement on the university's main switchboard phone line
- an announcement on WTTU, the campus radio station
- ttuemergency.blogspot.com (may be used as a primary communications tool if university infrastructure is damaged and campus technology is unavailable)
- WWW site (ITC Office)
2. Press conferences will take place in the Roaden University Center Tech Pride Room, unless prohibited by the crisis. Media waiting stations will be created on the third floor of the University Center near the Office of Communications & Marketing in RUC 342 and/or some of the available empty classrooms.
- Alternate locations if weather/crisis has affected Tech Pride Room - Johnson Auditorium, Wattenbarger Auditorium, Pennebaker Auditorium (no windows in these).
- will need to identify phones (if service is available) for use by media.
3. Offices maintained by Career Services for interviews will be opened to the media for telephone and outlet usage.
4. The Office of Communications & Marketing will provide comprehensive follow-up information to the campus community, media and public-at-large once the crisis has ended.
Guidelines for Working with the Media:
1. Return all media calls. Be as cooperative as possible. Most importantly, be forthright.
2. Be informative, friendly and patient. Also listen well. The media can provide valuable information in return.
3. Answer only the questions you have adequate answers for, otherwise say you will follow up and find the answer. Then be sure to follow through.
4. Don't let emotions or fatigue affect your dealings with the media and others. Accommodate logistical needs of the media. Goodwill pays dividend for the future.
5. Think about how what you say will affect other agencies of offices. Then call and let them know in advance about the inquiries they may receive. Also, when talking with the media or preparing releases, give credit to all individuals and agencies that are helping.
6. Be proactive. Give any new information to the media so that they might tailor it for their own unique angle.
7. Take control of the issue by initiating communications to present all the facts of the emergency and articulate the university's position.
8. Place priority on guarding long-term credibility and reputation of the university.
Guidelines for Official Spokesperson and Alternate:
The spokesperson will be responsible for articulating the university's position only upon the authorization of, and as directed by the CMT or the President.
1. Never offer your personal opinions: you are representing the university's position.
2. Stay in contact with the Emergency Operations Center. Keep the EOC informed of your location and telephone number or other means of reaching you.
3. Be well groomed. Keep a fresh change of clothes and other personal items (razor, toiletries, make-up) at the university. Don't wear brights, plaids, or checks.
4. In a news conference or interview:
- identify the university's key messages and put them in point form.
- rehearse you statement; go through a mock news conference of interview
- keep statements brief, simple, and to the point
- stay within pre-determined boundaries for the communication
- don't be afraid of "dead air" when you have finished what you say
- take time to breathe and think before answering questions
- don't be tempted to relax during the interview
- be politely assertive in communicating, not passive
- remain calm and courteous in face of hostile questions; don't argue
- avoid academic, institutional, and technical jargon
- avoid speculation; don't answer hypothetical questions
- don't accept or lay blame
- challenge loaded questions
- correct major errors, and challenge rumors but don't respond as if they were legitimate
- avoid false assumptions
- avoid the words "no comment"
- explain why you can't or won't answer a question: (policy; legal matter before courts; confidential personnel matter; facts not available)
- say nothing off the record
- answer questions considering the public interest
Media and Public Safety Call List provided by Office of Communications & Marketing