6 guidelines for drafting a crisis communications plan

It seems clear that Penn State didn’t have an adequate protocol in place. Don’t let that happen to you. Follow these tips.

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When a grand jury convened to investigate child sex abuse allegations against an employee, the university needed to start putting together an issues management plan that included numerous scenarios of possible outcomes, a crisis communication plan, and a media plan.

As with many issues management scenarios, they can become a full-blown crisis or mitigated with a thoughtful and immediate response. Undoubtedly, how they are handled can define your future.

Given news that the Penn State’s Board of Trustees only this week hired a crisis PR firm, it seems that there was no real plan in place despite the signs that this scandal was going to be uncovered.

As further evidence there was no plan—or it wasn’t used—it took several days before the university took any action or addressed the issue, even if was in a neutral manner.

A quick Web search did find a weak 627-word Penn State University crisis plan dating back to 2006. It describes several scenarios and listed numerous audiences for communication, including students, alumni, legislators, faculty, and media.

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