Safety & Security (Prepare and Be Aware)

Resources for Crisis Communications

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides online information on preparing for the need to communicate with the media and others during an emergency. They recommend that the crisis communications team, consisting of members of the administration team, should operate in an office environment to support the contact and information centers. The offices may be clustered near the emergency operations center or at an alternate site if the primary site cannot be occupied.

The goal of the crisis communications team is to gather information about the incident. This should include monitoring the types of questions posed to call center operators or staff in the office; emails received; social media chatter or stories broadcast by the news media. Using this input, the crisis communications team can inform the administration about issues that are being raised by stakeholders. In turn, administration should provide input into the messages generated by the crisis communications team. The team can then create appropriate messages and disseminate information approved for release.

Resources should be available within the primary site and provisions should be made to set up similar capabilities within an alternate site in case the primary site cannot be occupied.

  • Telephones with dedicated or addressable lines for incoming calls and separate lines for outgoing calls
  • Access to any electronic notification system used to inform students and staff
  • Electronic mail (with access to info@ inbox and ability to send messages)
  • Fax machine (one for receiving and one for sending)
  • Webmaster access to institution website to post updates
  • Access to social media accounts
  • Access to local area network, secure remote server, message template library and printers
  • Hard copies of emergency response, business continuity and crisis communications plan
  • Site and building diagrams, information related to business processes and loss prevention programs (e.g., safety and health, property loss prevention, physical and information/cybersecurity, fleet safety, and environmental management)
  • Copiers
  • Forms for documenting events as they unfold
  • Message boards (flipcharts, white boards, etc.)
  • Pens, pencils, paper, clipboards and other stationery supplies

For more information, visit

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.

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