When running our emergency scenarios we many times focus on perfectly packaged events in which things all going as planned. This goes against the very idea of a crisis, things are not planned.

Here are a few scenarios or situations I think are worth looking into:

  • Immediate evacuation of all of campus – everyone including communications/ emergency management staff have to leave campus immediately
  • Key administrators gone – people with which things tend to be run by are not around (E.G. President, Provost, Director of Emergency Management, Director of Media Relations)
  • Operations Center unavailable – all the systems and solutions you had planned to use are no longer able to be put in play, can you go manual
  • Campus technology infrastructure goes down – servers, email, phone lines, etc
  • Others I didn’t think of

Please leave comments to scenarios I may not have thought of or how you would handle the above situations in the comments

2 thoughts to “Crisis communications the unplanned scenarios

  • Chris Syme

    Good stuff again, Matt. This is so helpful. One event I find people are not planning for is an event going viral on social media. Most people don’t have a response strategy: triage and people ready. In looking at what eastern seaboard colleges did during Sandy, one of the key complaints was that websites and message boards were all set up but nobody was present to answer questions. Having a trained “staff” of monitors during a crisis is key. Train people to step in and monitor all channels and have key messages and info ready. Include a triage chart for sending important messages to a higher power.

    Just an aside–I’ve experienced a crisis on campus when key administrators were gone. It can be a disaster. Good call. Lesson I learned: decision making chain needs to be in place for when they are gone or unreachable.

  • Andrew Careaga

    Like Chris, I too have been in a situation when leadership was unavailable. During one crisis on our campus, both the chancellor and the second-in-command (provost) wer not readily accessible. The chancellor was traveling and the provost, we later learned, was at breakfast but left his cell phone in his hotel room. The third in command was unwilling to make the necessary call, so we had to wait longer than necessary for a fairly straightforward decision.

    Recently we conducted a campuswide evacuation scenario. That’s something we hadn’t even considered until the bomb threats at Texas, LSU, etc., occurred this fall.

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