Crisis communications session proposal

I’ve been considering proposing a presentation on the subject of crisis communications for a session at the 2011 CASE V annual conference here in Chicago this December. Here’s my current draft. What do you think? I’d love your reaction and suggestions for improvement.

Lessons Learned in the Groundhog Day Blizzard

Who’s got an awesome crisis-communications plan? One that you’ve prepared in advance, had approved by senior leaders at your institution, deployed in at least one real-life emergency, and tuned up through effective post-mortem discussions with both staff and constituents? Congratulations: this session is not for you.

But for the rest of us, this session provides an opportunity to think through the elements, procedures, and mindset for an effective and practical plan for communicating in a crisis. I’ll tell the story of how North Park University in Chicago handled communicating the university’s response to the historic Groundhog Day Blizzard in February 2011.

We’ll address such topics as:

  • advance planning (and how to plan for when you CAN’T plan)
  • communications-related decision making as a crisis unfolds
  • some helpful tools (online and off-) that you’ll wish you had in your bag
  • how to staff for crisis communications
  • the value of after-the-fact analysis and evaluation

Part presentation, part discussion, this session will give us the chance to learn from our institutions’ experience (failures no less than successes). Bring your own fears and horror stories, and we’ll all try to help you not just feel better — but truly be more ready when the moment comes.

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