Crisis Communication

POLICY STATEMENT
 
Delta State University is committed to taking a pre-emptive approach to public relations crises, using disclosure whenever possible as the preferred strategy for preventing or minimizing public relations crises.
 
No one, other than the President, is authorized to represent the university’s position to the news media in a crisis without clearance from the Office of University Relations.
 
The Office of University Relations is responsible for developing crisis communication strategies.
 
Final approval of these strategies will rest with the University President or his/her designee. 
 
DEFINITIONS
 
None
 
PROCEDURES and RESPONSIBILITIES
 
University Relations will maintain regular contact with vice presidents, deans, directors, department heads, campus police, and faculty, staff and student leaders, advising the appropriate administrator(s) when internal issues or developments appear likely to lead to public relations problems.
 
Similarly, DSU’s administration will regularly notify University Relations of internal developments that may escalate into public relations crises.
 
University Relations also will monitor local, state and national news coverage of higher education, advising the appropriate administrator(s) of issues and/or trends that might lead to negative stories.

When crises erupt, University Relations will gather and verify information about the crisis, assess the severity of the crisis, and develop strategies concerning how information is to be released, who should speak for the institution and who is to be notified.
 
Once a strategy has been developed, University Relations will work out logistical details of releasing information and distribute verified information as quickly as possible to internal and external audiences.
 
In an emerging crisis, the Director of University Relations will be notified immediately. The Director will confer with the appropriate DSU official(s) to assess the nature and severity of the crisis. The Director will, when able, devise a simple strategy to forestall the crisis, particularly if it is confined to a single DSU unit. If issues and events are of sufficient complexity that they require input from several DSU units, or if a simple strategy is not likely to be effective, the Director will recommend to the University President or his/her designee that DSU form a crisis team. The University President or his/her designee will assemble and chair a crisis team made up of the highest-ranking officials available from the units involved in the crisis. The composition of a team will vary according to the situation. The crisis team will convene as soon as possible in the President’s Conference Room unless another meeting location is specified by the President or his/her designee. The crisis team will gather details of the crisis, recommend strategies for internal and external communications, and select the appropriate spokesperson for the University.
 
In a sudden occurrence of a severe crisis the University President and/or his/her designee will be notified immediately of the crisis, be apprised of all known facts/background, and have direct, priority access to University Relations to develop a “first-wave” communication strategy. University Relations will implement the strategy immediately upon approval by the University President or his/her designee. After implementing “first-wave” communication, a crisis team will be formed to develop on-going strategy.
 
 
 
 
To provide evaluation and follow up of the crisis communication process, University Relations will document the news coverage surrounding a crisis, including wire stories, newspaper articles, radio and television broadcasts. When the crisis is past, University Relations will supply the crisis team with a summary of news coverage. 
 
It is recommended that the crisis team review this report and evaluate DSU’s performance under fire. The team will note overall success or failure of the crisis communications effort, problems to be avoided in the future, and appropriate follow-up measures.
 
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