In light of the back to school season that’s fast approaching, this week on The Crisis Show we dedicated the entire show to a special “Back to School” segment. Rich dubbed it “We don’t need no education”, borrowing the title of the Pink Floyd cover to make a statement that educational institutions as a whole have lacked in crisis management planning and communications throughout the years, and are in need of a thorough education on the subject of crisis communications – especially in this new age of social media and online viral threats.

For this special segment of The Crisis Show, we had the pleasure of sharing the panel with three guest hosts, each with an extensive background in the educational system and the crises that Universities and other educational institutions face year to year. Our three wonderful guest hosts were: Karen Freberg, Gail Glover and Philip Lentz.

The entire show was a continuous discussion of best practices, strategies, great insight on past experiences and so much more on the topic of crisis management and crisis communications for educational institutions – and other industries as a whole.

At the end of each show, it’s tradition that we leave our audience with our “Crisis tips of the week”, which this week we asked from our insightful guests. Their excellent tips were voiced with schools in mind, but can be applied and should be practiced by all companies and organizations across the board. Here’s what our guest hosts want you to know:

Gail Glover, the Senior Director of Media and Public Relations at Binghamton University, SUNY said:

“Be prepared for a crisis before your crisis happens. [Have] a crisis team already formulated before you have to deal with situations. That’s critical from a campus-wide perspective, but also from your own team – the people that are part of your communications office. Do you have people’s contact information? Can you get hold of them at 3 o’clock in the morning? Because our work day often doesn’t end at 5, a crisis doesn’t wait or happen in business hours, it always happens at 3 o’clock in the morning! […] Have your own house in order. Be prepared for a crisis in your own unit, as well as participate in the broader campus-wide team as well.”

Philip Lentz, the Director of Public Affairs at New York University said:

“Always be responsive and always be open. Don’t wait to get back to reporters because you don’t know anything right away, just tell them that you’re working on it. And don’t try to sort of cover up or smooth over difficult issues. Address them directly and honestly and you’ll have the respect from the reporters who are talking to you.”

Karen Freberg, an assistant professor in Strategic Communications at the University of Louiseville and an adjunct faculty member for West Virginia University in the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Graduate Online program, said:

“I would say that I have two! 1 is to be careful what you post online because you never know who might see it and it’s about first impressions, and with the importance of social media in crisis communications I think it’s really important to think before you post. And the second thing for crisis communications professionals in this day and age of evolving media is be a student of the technology. Always try to learn something new and always try to think of opportunities that this platform has, but also think about what possible situations [you] might be facing with this, whether it’s Foursquare, or whether it’s some of the newer technologies out there with Twitter, Facebook and even what we’re seeing with the mobile apps, and look at the cost of benefits of those as a crisis communicator.”

Some excellent advice from our guest panelists that can go a long way in helping you better prepare for any sort of crisis your school, company or organization may face down the road!

The complete “back to school” episode of The Crisis Show

This entire episode was jam-packed with valuable insight and experience from the pros who took the time to spend an hour with us this week! It’s worth taking the time to check out!

Don’t forget that you can watch The Crisis Show live, each Wednesday at 7pm ET via YouTube!

photo by: QUOI Media