Quickstart Template: Streamline Your Campus Crisis Communication Tactics

March 10, 2020
an empty classroom

With the coronavirus crisis escalating by the day and colleges changing plans hourly, it’s important for college and university communications offices to be prepared to share information with the campus community in a consistent, organized, and timely manner. 

It’s not the time to revamp an entire crisis communication plan, but there is one document that is most critical to have on-hand and up-to-date when it’s time to execute on your college’s communication needs: The Communications Tools Standard Operating Procedures.

This document serves as an appendix to your crisis communication plan or unit plan to the college-wide Emergency Response Plan. It should be stored in the cloud, on thumb drives, and in hard copies at secure sites on- and off-campus. Many staff members should be trained on the tools outlined in this document.

Communications Tools Standard Operating Procedures Document

The document should contain instructions on which channels should be used under each circumstance. At a high-level, the channels include:

  • Primary and secondary contacts for communications
  • Complete listing of campus-wide emergency communications systems
  • Access to emergency communications systems
  • Media outreach plan
  • Broadcast tools – digital signs, texting, phones
  • Website 
  • ​Social media

For each of the channels, the following details should be completed as part of the crisis communications plan:

  • Description
  • Example of messages
  • Audience reached
  • Pros to note
  • Cons to note
  • Primary personnel required to activate
  • Back-up personnel
  • Process for activation
  • When will this system be activated
  • Last test/use date

Start your planning with a template

Make a copy of our Google Doc Version template to get an editable version and full listing of channels.

Who should be responsible for the document?

The senior marketing/communications staff member at the college, such as the CMO/CCO/VP/AVP/ED.

What training should be involved?

Primary and secondary contacts for each tool should be identified and trained, and at least two additional staff members should be trained as further backups. Comprehensive training should take place at least twice per year and drills should be scheduled every other month.

Additional resources for crisis communications plans:

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