Importance of Communication in a Crisis: Need to Know for School Leaders
Most Principals or Heads of Schools avoid confrontation when stuck in a crisis. But the incident which has captured the attention of people will not simmer easily and your silence will have a negative impact.
The First Rule to follow
Be prepared to talk about it, publicly and immediately. Don't let things get out of control. The first people to communicate with are - the faculty and staff. Keeping them informed builds community and elicits cooperation. Next, talk to parents. Be clear in stating the facts of the situation, give all the facts you can possibly give, and tell parents how you intend to respond. More information is better.
If media gets involved, be prepared. Refer all calls to one spokesperson who has all details that you intend to give out. Stick to the facts, if you don't know the answer to a question, admit it, and offer to get back to the reporter, and then do so.
Crisis management isn’t always for the bad news, good news can flood the media attention as well. The designated person who is answering the phone should collect complete information like, name of person, name of news organization, phone number, and the reporter's deadline - and prioritize that phone call should be returned accordingly.
Things to keep in mind while talking to a reporter:
Never tell a reporter anything you are unwilling to see in print. Don’t rely on saying anything “off the record”.
Speak slowly. This helps you to hear yourself and you can monitor your statements for clarity.
You don’t have to fill in silences. Stop talking when you are done, even if the reporter wants more.
If you are asked a question which you feel is not appropriate or confusing, deviate and say what you feel is more important.
If you are angry or upset, postpone the interview. No media coverage is better than bad media coverage.
What to do within the first hour of crisis?
Define the problem, understand the circumstances.
Consider the options, protect safety of your staff and students.
Communicate with staff, keep the news media informed.
This article is inspired by an article on Education World website. Read the original here.