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Not If...but When. What's Your Plan?

Three headlines in the Boston area today all show the need for schools (and other institutions) to be ready for managing unanticipated news.

Clearly, a strong security and risk assessment / mitigation program that helps you avoid problems is a better alternative. However, you should anticipate that the time will come when you are faced with a situation which will impact the sense of security and safety of your students, staff, faculty or facility. Whether you are facing an Emergency or a Crisis, communication becomes essential for effective management of the problem.

Often times Emergency Communication and Crisis Communication area used interchangeably. In fact, they are two different types of communication strategies and need two different approaches to be successful.

Emergency Communication

Definition: Communication which can be classified as directing and reporting.

Purpose: To deploy resources and provide information on an immediate basis to assess a specific incident, to execute developed plans and protocols for addressing it, and to keep appropriate leadership personnel informed about its status so that additional actions can be taken or additional resources deployed.

Characteristics: Emergency Communication must quick, concise, and adaptable to sudden changes in the matter being managed.

Impact: Good Emergency Communication helps you minimize the overall effect of any negative event. If you are trying to “figure it out as you go,” you risk incurring more injury, damage or loss than if you prepare and practice ahead of time.

Crisis Communication

Definition: Communication which can be classified as informing and assuring.

Purpose: To publically inform your stakeholders (parents, students, employees, the community, etc.) what you know, what you are doing and what they can expect.

Characteristics: Crisis Communication must be timely, truthful, authoritative and accurate. It can evolve as the impact of any situation becomes clearer, causes are understood, responsibility is determined, preventative measures are put in place, etc.

Impact: Effective Crisis Communication is your single most important ally in preserving reputation, trust and integrity.

Remember, if you are scrambling when the "if" becomes the "when," you are going to risk losing more and you are going to spend more effort, resources and goodwill to restore confidence and credibility.

Take time to be prepared now! Contact us for help on all your security, safety and emergency planning needs. Also be sure to check out our 5 Minutes to Better Preparedness guides here.

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