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Taking Stock of Crisis Response During COVID-19

It may seem challenging to find time to assess your crisis response while in the midst of a crisis, but it’s the best way to evolve your processes to better reach your audiences.

March 18, 2020

We know that communicators across the country are deep into the implementation of their crisis communications plans, grappling with the reality of how far beyond any plan this crisis has evolved. And we know that this advice may sound unrealistic or counterintuitive. But it’s time to hit pause, step back and evaluate. 

We’ve been living this new normal for at least 10 days, longer on many campuses. We know what’s been working and what’s delayed the transmission of vital information that our campus communities need and want. It’s time to consider what processes we can streamline, how we can make things easier on our teams, and who we can tap to remove roadblocks. 

Spend 15 minutes considering the following critical questions, and then facilitate a conversation with your team to see if your perceptions match the reality they are facing. 

  • Are the right people involved in drafting content? Are the right people involved in approving content? Can or should you streamline either group or expand the number of participants? 
  • Do you have processes in place across campus and functional units to get timely updates to critical information in the hands of communicators? Is information being shared on a timeline that allows for prompt creation, approval and dissemination of updates to the community?  
  • Are there any processes you need to consider expediting because your current system is slowing down the drafting, review and implementation cycle?
  • Do you have cutoff times for routine input into communications so you can maintain timely rollout of information to your campus community?
  • Are you doing daily accountability checks for what you said you would communicate yesterday and planning appropriate communications for today?
  • Are you performing social listening to understand how your messages are being received? Is the information gathered from social listening being shared with your team?
  • Are key offices on campus (senior leadership, frontline communicators, admissions and advancement) receiving talking points that align with your most recent communications?
  • Do you have a potential bench to draw from should any member of your team—including you—get sick?
  • Are you remembering to share compliments as well as feedback?
  • Are you thinking about and prioritizing the daily health and well-being of yourself and your team? 

While it seems that we’re running out of ways to describe what unprecedented times we are in, communicators have the tools, training and instincts to know what their communities need and when they need it. Know that we’re in the trenches with you and we’re here to offer support and advice or just a listening ear because we truly are all in this together.

Teresa Valerio Parrot is principal, and Erin Hennessy is vice president, at TVP Communications.

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