Crisis Communication Crash & Burn

Employee scandals.
Illegal activity.
Product recalls.
These, and more, are all things that call for crisis communication.

Temple University recently announced the cancellation of seven sports teams and has found itself in the midst of a situation that could use a lot of crisis communication.  While an initial announcement was made, there has been a lot of backlash from students, parents and faculty about the issue and minimal information has been provided from the university.

I’m not here to place blame on Temple, I am simply analyzing the situation from the perspective of a public relations student. While I haven’t had much first-hand experience with crisis communication, I’ve learned a great deal about it and there are several things that should be done in an instance like this:

  • Get accurate information out fast. If you don’t the press will and word of mouth will and the message you were hoping to convey is hopelessly lost in translation.
  • Never say “no comment”. Always have something to say, or others will end up putting words in your mouth and taking your caution as avoidance and guilt.
  • Use empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of the people that are being affected. Make it known that you are doing so. Generic responses and cookie cutter actions are only going to show people that you’re disconnected with your audience.
Based on what I’ve learned during my education here at Temple, the university could up their crisis communication and handle the situation more effectively. It’s a tricky issue, I think everyone understands that. What would you do if faced with such a crisis?

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