Donovan Group Insights

Developing Crisis Communication Templates

A crisis necessitates urgent communication. Unfortunately, communication can get delayed when school leaders spend too much time crafting their messages. School leaders shouldn’t be planning their communications in the middle of a crisis. The best time to craft your crisis communications is long before that crisis even happens.

Prepare your school or district for any scenario by implementing crisis communication templates. These templates are pre-written responses that you can customize and publish through a variety of communication channels. Within minutes, you can communicate timely, accurate information to the most relevant stakeholders. During a crisis, templates can make all the difference.

Why use crisis communication templates?

Crisis communication templates are a valuable tool to keep in your back pocket. They can help your school or district respond to nearly any crisis in a timely, organized fashion. While you may hope to never encounter a crisis, the reality is that a crisis can strike when you least expect it. That’s why your district must be prepared.

Consider these reasons to incorporate templates into your crisis communication plan:

  • Life is unpredictable: No school leader likes to think a crisis will befall their community. Negative events occur from time to time, but true crises are few and far between. There’s so much on your plate already that crisis planning tends to get put on the back burner. However, you never know when the next crisis is going to hit. It could be a year from now, or it could be tomorrow. Your schools have to be prepared for anything, and part of that preparation is putting the necessary communication protocols in place.
  • Crises can cloud your thinking: It’s hard to think straight in the midst of a crisis. They often cause a whirlwind of emotions, and your thoughts will likely be clouded by fear, anxiety, grief or even anger. This is not the time to create messages from scratch. Crisis communication templates allow you to plan out your responses well in advance, while your head is clear. By using these templates, you can communicate with stakeholders in a way that’s composed, professional and reassuring.
  • Get the word out faster: During a crisis, time is of the essence. The sooner you can communicate, the better. Creating messages in the midst of a crisis can take too long, and in many cases, delayed communication can be harmful to those who are directly impacted by the event. Your time and energy should go toward getting the crisis under control, not drafting your communications from scratch. Crisis communication templates offer messages that are ready to go so you can communicate with stakeholders quickly. All you have to do is plug in the relevant details and hit send.

Templates for various types of content

There are templates for nearly any form of crisis communication. Parent letters, website copy and other types of content are critical for keeping stakeholders informed during and after a crisis. A mix of different templates can help you reach more stakeholders by leveraging multiple media channels. They also make it easier to tailor your message to one stakeholder group or another.

Crisis communication templates are available for the following forms of content:

  • Parent letters: Parent letters are an effective way to get in touch with the families of affected students. When you use a template, you can distribute parent letters as early as the day after a crisis. Plus, these templates are easily customizable. It only takes a couple minutes to enter crisis-specific details, such as dates, times and locations.
  • Website copy: Your school’s website is the number one source of information for many stakeholders. If a crisis occurs, people will visit the website for updates on the situation. With that in mind, website copy templates are a critical part of your school’s crisis communication plan. After customizing the template, be sure to publish it in an easy-to-find location, such as the home page or a clickable banner that runs along the top of the website.
  • Video scripts: Video is a great tool for communicating after a crisis. A quick 60-second video announcement can relay the most important details to the general public. Plus, video is more likely to engage stakeholders than a written piece of content. When you speak in front of a camera, the key is to get all the information across without sounding too wordy. Using a template to create the video script can help keep your message short and succinct.
  • Media talking points: School leaders should always come prepared to media interviews. Crisis communication templates offer talking points that cover a wide variety of scenarios. Pre-written talking points can help you give thoughtful, appropriate responses to a reporter’s questions. Some templates even provide a list of common questions and suggestions for how to respond to them.

Tips for using your templates effectively

Crisis communication templates are designed to make your job easier. In the midst of a crisis, templates allow you to communicate quickly and professionally without putting too much thought into what the messages say. They’re an effective way to communicate, and you can make them even more effective by building some additional steps into your crisis communication plan.

Here are some ways to get the most out of your crisis communication templates:

  • Store them in the cloud: A crisis requires swift action. You can’t afford to spend time sifting through computer files in search of your crisis communication templates. Save the templates in a digital folder, and keep that folder in a centralized location. Storing templates in the cloud will make them more accessible to you and anyone else who needs to use them. This will also cut down on the amount of time it takes to communicate with stakeholders.
  • Grant permission to staff: In a crisis communication plan, each staff member is assigned a specific role. They should also receive a secondary role in the event someone is unable to carry out their assigned duties. This means that multiple people may need to access the crisis communication templates. Keep a list of everyone’s names, their roles and who has permission to use the templates. Make sure the appropriate staff members have the login credentials necessary to access the templates in your absence.
  • Create a crisis fact sheet: Crisis communication doesn’t fall on the shoulders of just one person. You and your team have to work together to ensure stakeholders receive timely, accurate information. It’s absolutely critical for information to stay consistent across all templates—something that’s not always easy when multiple staff members are in charge of communications. Create a crisis fact sheet that has all the information you need to keep stakeholders informed. Things can change quickly during a crisis, so remember to update the fact sheet as necessary.

Templates play a critical role in your school’s crisis communication efforts. They save time in situations where every minute counts. They can replace fear and anxiety with confidence and a sense of security. Something as simple as words on a piece of paper can help you get a crisis under control and begin the process of healing your school community.

Don’t wait for a crisis to strike. Download our free templates and be ready to respond to any situation your district might face.

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