Communication is a key
factor in the University's response to any crisis situation. Good communications
policy and practice can assist in the management of the crisis; provide direction
to faculty, staff and students; and disseminate information to appropriate constituents
and the general public while maintaining the University's credibility.
The University of Wisconsin-Parkside
will take every step to be forthright and timely in its communications with
the University community, the media, and the general public during a time of
crisis. Decisions and actions will be guided by responsible concern for the
right of privacy, personal security, legal liability, and the public's legitimate
right to be informed.
Authority of the Chancellor
During a crisis, communications--both
internal and external--will be under the direction of the Chancellor or his/her
designee. In a time of crisis, all written or oral statements (including news
conferences, news releases, open memoranda or letters, interviews, and messages
from information desks) to campus groups, the media, and the public require
authorization of the Chancellor or her/his designee.
Definition of Crisis
A crisis may be the result
of catastrophe or the result of circumstances with potential for adverse
public relations. Some examples of possible crises are violent or criminal
behaviors, civil disturbances, political or racial-oriented controversies, sexual
harassment, accidental death or suicide, explosion or fire, storm damage, employee
misconduct, and bomb threats.
Relationship to Disaster Action Plans
This crisis communication
plan, while dealing with a broader range of concerns than those covered by campus
disaster action plans*, shall be incorporated into each disaster plan. Where
necessary, steps specific to any given type of disaster will be added. The campus
risk manager and the director of public relations shall be responsible for developing
disaster-specific action plans.
* Disaster action plans
pertain to events or actions that have the potential for bodily harm, e.g. Bomb
Threats, Tornado Warnings and Alerts, Fire, Chemical Spills or Smoke Evacuations.
Before A Crisis Occurs
Annually, the University will provide organized training on managing campus
communication in times of crisis for campus leaders. Persons required to participate
will include but not be limited to members of the Chancellor's Cabinet, deans,
dean of students, director of university police, risk manager, director of physical
plant, director of student health and counseling, and the director of public
2. Crisis Management
Team. The Crisis Management Team (CMT) shall serve as the group responsible
for advising the Chancellor and coordinating the University's actions in time
of crisis or potential crisis. The Chancellor shall designate persons to a CMT.
In addition to the Chancellor, the standing members of the CMT will be the Provost/Vice
Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor and the Executive Director of University Advancement.
Other members of the University community most likely to be designated to a
CMT, depending upon the circumstances, include college deans, dean of students,
director of university police, risk manager, director of physical plant, director
of student health and counseling, and the director of public relations. Others
may also be designated by the Chancellor.
3. Communication Chain.
A list of names, titles, and phone numbers of those persons most likely to serve
on the CMT (see designated positions in 1 and 2 above) and a procedure for contacting
each person, regardless of when a crisis occurs, will be distributed to the
Chancellor and her/his Cabinet. Lists of other persons to be contacted in case
of a crisis--both those working for the University and key community people
including media representatives--need to be prepared in advance and distributed
to the Chancellor and His/her Cabinet. These lists should include names, titles,
affiliations, office and home phone numbers, and alternate contacts in case
a particular individual is not reachable. The director of public relations shall
be responsible for developing and maintaining accurate lists and providing them
to the Chancellor for distribution.
4. Logistical Details.
The director of public relations will prepare, in advance, logistical arrangements
for such things as potential news conference/media availability sites, designated
phone lines for media representatives, inventory and availability of equipment
and space, parking for media including satellite broadcast trucks, and names
and availability of support and technical staff so the director of public relations
can deal directly with media representatives. The director will provide written
outlines of these arrangements to the Chancellor and His/her Cabinet and keep
Anticipating a Crisis
5. Situation Analysis. Whenever possible, staff and faculty should assess situations for their potential to result in a crisis, using the definitions in the first paragraph of this document to determine
the meaning of crisis.
When staff anticipate potential for a crisis, they should brief (a) their senior
administrative officer (dean, provost, vice chancellor, executive director)
who will, in turn, be responsible for briefing the chancellor and (b) the executive
director of university advancement. In the absence of the executive director
of university advancement, they should brief the director of public relations.
When time permits, as when potential for crisis is determined, the situation
analysis and briefing should be prepared in writing and used for future reference.
Briefings should include
all relevant information, including but not limited to:
Responding to a
7. Develop a Communication
Plan. Discuss these briefing facts with the chancellor, the appropriate
senior administrative officers, and the director of public relations in order
to develop a strategy for communicating with the media and other campus constituencies,
including the designation of spokespersons.
8. Report Changes in Circumstances. Whenever the potential crisis dissipates or begins to escalate, the Chancellor, the senior officer, and the Executive Director of University Advancement should be notified immediately.
9. Coordinate Communications.
During a crisis the Division of University Relations will be responsible for
working closely with the Chancellor and those directly involved in executing
communications strategies, including:
coordinating inquiries from media representatives preparing and distributing statements to both internal and external audiences answering inquiries from internal and external audiences serving as the collection point for up-to-date information assisting/controlling media representatives, including working with University Police to designate a safe place at which they can learn about the situation in case of an emergency correcting false information
When the Crisis is Over
10. Debrief. The
Crisis Management Team should convene to discuss what the crisis means for the
University and its constituents, faculty and staff, the communities, etc., and
to develop a follow-up communication plan to give closure to the incident or
to keep people informed of post crisis developments.
LIST OF ACTION STEPS
1. NOTIFY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF UNIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT (OR DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS IN HER/HIS ABSENCE) when potential exists for a crisis situation to develop or when a crisis occurs.
2. ASSEMBLE ALL PERTINENT FACTS AND COMMIT THEM TO WRITING. Be sure to determine what University, System and/or legal provision/procedures apply to the circumstances. Keep these for future reference.
3. DISCUSS THE FACTS WITH THE CHANCELLOR, APPROPRIATE SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS AND DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS to determine appropriate institutional actions and communications strategies.
4. ACT QUICKLY.
Give highest priority to completing these action steps.