I won’t go into details, since there are so many others who already have, but KABOOM!
Yesterday, a jury ruled that Virginia Tech was negligent while handling and releasing information during the 2007 mass killings on campus. The university maintains that they did as much as they could to the best of their abilities. And I honestly believe that is the case. Hindsight is 20/20, and sure they could have handled this better, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t trying their best.
However, this verdict doesn’t just affect Virginia Tech. This affects colleges around the country.
The shootings that happened at Virginia Tech could happen anywhere, at any university. Most universities have emergency plans in place that cover these kinds of situations, and drill and practice them on a regular basis. Staff are trained on what to do and what their roles are in the emergency plan, but training only goes so far. Nothing could ever simulate the chaos I am sure surrounds an actual event like this.
The verdict in this case ups the ante for all of us involved in emergency communications, in addition to administrators. We all know the importance of having a clear, concise message with all the facts, but if it doesn’t include all the facts, or it’s not sent out quickly, that means you were negligent. That’s a tough one to swallow, be perfect, or it’s wrong.
So we should all use this opportunity to better prepare ourselves for the unforeseeable. Here are some links that relate to crisis and emergency communications.
- 5 Crisis PR Lessons From the Goldman Sachs Resignation Letter
- Can We Rely On Social Media In An Emergency?
- Using Social Media in a Crisis: A Snapshot
- PR Pros: When Not to Talk to the Media
- Your Brand Hit the Fan: 6 Tips for Using Social Media to Manage a PR Crisis
So what do you think of the verdict?