Write your crisis communications plan, communicate the plan, and hope you never have to use it.

This is the blog no one wants to write but the reality is with so many crisis situations happening across our country – especially in schools, as a communications company we need to weigh in.

A few years ago I received a call no parent ever wants to get “the school is on lockdown and there are police there.” For me, leaving a meeting on a normal day to meet my son off the bus turned into me scrolling the social media parent group and calling/texting all my parent friends to see if I could learn anything about the situation. I grew irritated when I thought I have not received any communication from the school….which quickly dissipated when the reality was they were dealing with a crisis, a school full of kids and trying to keep them safe. Sure enough by 4:39 (39 minutes after what seemed to be a lifetime of the unknown) I had a short quick update with an explanation from the school. Well done.

Kirsten and I participated on panel years ago for charter schools and discussed school crisis communications plans and strategy. It was a hard panel but we ultimately communicated what we advise clients to do every single day – regardless of the industry: Look at what you need to do in the event of the worst case scenario- write the plan, communicate the plan with your team, and hope you never have to use it. I’m coming to you as a mom – I sit on both sides of the table here, but also as someone who knows the importance of a communications plan. So take notes and please call us so we can help you make sure you’re prepared for the worst. These are the things you can do – today – by spending just a few hours to get your crisis communications plan in place.

  1. Identify who you need to communicate to: Be it parents, a board, media, maybe it’s all of those but with varying levels of information.
  2. Document where that list is stored and HOW to access it: Including two step authentication and back up procedures in the event someone else needs to access it).
  3. Identify the platforms you need to use to communicate: Email, phone, text, social media – figure out what you use and cross populate knowing people all use modes differently.
  4. What’s your approval process: Who has to press send on the list in the email, post, text etc.? – Know it and have backups
  5. Know your parameters, especially with data privacy: Share what you can, knowing that more time later will allow you more opportunity to prepare with more details.
  6. Chain of command: Who drafts the email/social post/text? Who approves and hits send on the final product that is shared?

This is the simple first step task in communicating during a crisis. Emotions drive a response to crisis – we are only human and there is no getting around the things that make us feel what we feel. But as a professional having a very simple plan to execute will save you from the rumor mill, angry parents, and will show you are doing the best you can with a situation none of us wants to prepare for.

Contact us at K2 today if you need help developing your crisis communications plan whether its for your school, business, organization, etc. We will give high-intensity attention to your every need!

-Kristen Sheehan