5 tips to be better prepared for a campus emergency or crisis

September 28th, 2007 Karine Joly No Comments

Even if you don’t take the time to read my last article about crisis communication (although you should), don’t ignore these 5 basic tips and share them with folks in charge of crisis communication at your institution:

  1. Make sure the chief communication officer of your institution is part of your emergency team.
  2. Include in your crisis plan your institution response to different possible scenarios. Define the type of communication channels to be use for the different situations and prepare the notification templates for each. In case of a crisis, you’ll be able to update and send these templates in minutes.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. Train your emergency team to assess, evaluate and make decisions. Review and edit your crisis plan with what you learn from your drills.
  4. If a crisis happens, send your alert notifications via several communication channels (phone, cell phone, email, text-messages, loud speaker, PA systems, etc.) and post the notification on the homepage of your website.
  5. Use your website as the main hub for your communications with your campus community, parents, media representatives and the rest of the world throughout and after the crisis.

As announced by Andrea Schwandt-Arbogast on her blog earlier this week, Humboldt State University tested its emergency homepage yesterday morning for about 15 minutes:

I have developed two emergency templates— one for low-level emergencies such as power outages, tsunami warnings for the county (campus itself is out of tsunami range), etc, and one for high-level emergencies such as campus shootings, major earthquakes and the like.

The low-level emergency template will be used tomorrow, and retains HSU marketing messages and most functionality. The high-level template removes all images and marketing, as well at most functionality, in anticipation of high server loads. Folks from the Web Office and from Public Affairs have the ability to switch the main site to one of these emergency templates and post emergency messages.

This online drill was announced on the homepage via a special red button:

Humboldt - before the test

At 10:45 am PT, the homepage switched to its emergency state while the tower bell rang on campus as part of the drill.

Humboldt - during the test

The online part of this drill allowed HSU to practice, test its emergency homepage and use the website communicate effectively what all that ringing was about.

Smart move, don’t you think?