Crisis Communication

Posts Tagged ‘Henry Ford Community College

Looking at the news today, one crisis situation sticks out the most to me: Murder-suicide at college.

My first thought is that all colleges are affected by situations like this one. As a college student, my immediate thought is “this could happen here too.” I can’t imagine how a parent might feel.

A student was shot at Henry Ford Community College last Friday. The shooter then shot himself.

The school quickly used its emergency cell phone and e-mail system to alert students. Classes later in the day were cancelled.

Having worked for a university’s public relations department, I know how important student safety is. Central Michigan University has an emergency alert system that students can sign up for to receive e-mail, text or a phone call in the case of an emergency. At the beginning of the fall semester, we had computers in the university center and encouraged students and their parents to sign up.

The front page of the HFCC Web site. The first two paragraphs conscisely explain what happened. Below it is the “important information” section about classes resuming, grief counseling, the closing of the building that the shooting took place in, and information about contributions to the funeral. This is followed by a two-paragraph message from the president.

At the 2008 PRSSA National Conference, I sat through a session with Jeffrey Douglas, who handled the Virginia Tech shootings and have written a blog post about it.

Although this is a much smaller event, I recall Douglas’ discussion about the school’s Web site. It was one of the most important places to have information available for the students. I think this school has done a great job with it.

I haven’t been able to find much additional information about the crisis yet. It seemed to have been handled efficiently at HFCC. But, I think other schools are going to be doing their own crisis communication to reassure students and parents that their campuses are safe and that there are systems in place in case of emergency.