Donovan Group Insights

Crisis Communication—Prioritizing Contacts

In an earlier post, we outlined the first step of communicating after a crisis situation: getting all of the facts.

Today, I want to talk about determining with whom you should communicate and when you should communicate after a crisis.

Please note that I use the term crisis to discuss urgent issues, those that require our immediate attention, but not the kinds of tragic situations that we may see on the national news.

It is often very difficult for school and district leaders to determine with whom they should communicate immediately after a crisis situation. In fact, that task can seem, at the times, overwhelming.

Here is a tip. There are generally two tiers of communication that need to take place after a crisis situation. Tier One communications are those that need to take place immediately. Then there are tier two communications, important communications that can take place in the hours and days after the situation.

Consider, then, the following people and groups you may need to communicate with:

  • The local police
  • Involved parents
  • Involved staff
  • The school district’s attorney
  • School board members
  • Other parents in the school
  • Other staff in the school
  • Other district parents
  • Other district staff
  • Other community members
  • The state department of education or public instruction
  • The media
  • Your key communicators network, if you have one.

Then, consider the following questions to help you determine when you need to communicate with these people and groups…

  • Who do I need to contact this minute?
  • Who do I need to contact in the next ten minutes?
  • Who do I need to contact in the next half hour?
  • Who do I need to contact in the next hour?
  • Who do I need to contact in the morning or later in the day?
  • Who do I need to contact in the next two days?
  • Take a deep breath and double check your list. The person you need to contact this minute, in the next ten minutes and in the next half hour are contacted you will likely make by phone. Make them now and keep a record of the call.

Remember, Wisconsin AWSA and WASDA members can receive free crisis communications assistance from the Donovan Group. You can reach the Donovan Group at any time by calling 414-409-7225.

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