How to handle crisis management in schools
As experienced communicators and crisis management professionals, at Represent, we work within the education sector on crisis planning and management in schools.
A crisis, no matter how big or small, can have a negative impact in your school and its reputation. One way to protect against this is to plan for potential issues before they happen so when they do happen, you can step in safe in the knowledge that you have a robust process in place.
When handling crisis management in schools, there are some crucial areas you should consider. Let us take you through these…
Set up a crisis team
Create a solid team of people who have knowledge about the school, can think on their feet, and have the authority to take important decisions. Work within this team to draft up a crisis plan which focusses on possible crisis scenarios and how each situation would be dealt with.
Know your stakeholders
Stakeholder relations should not only be done in times of crisis. This is the group of people that you should be communicating with year-round. By keeping them up to date on your successes, in times of crisis they are more likely to have a wider understanding of your school, its achievements and more importantly the value you bring to the wider community.
Plan, plan and plan again
Planning is essential for crisis management in schools, so that if something does go wrong you can be prepared for it and know what to do. While each crisis situation is unique and has many factors beyond your control, there are ways to prepare for something going wrong.
Think of the different levels of crisis you could experience, from a low-level issues that have the potential to escalate to major crisis. Determine scenarios that could come up in your school and then you’ll be in a good position to come up with a plan on how you can handle each scenario. For example, this could be a fire in the school, a disgruntled parent or a teacher who has breached guidelines.
Having processes in place for all eventualities will lead to them being dealt with much quicker and more efficiently and will reduce the potential for reputational damage.
Want to know more about handling a crisis online? Read our blog on how to overcome a social media crisis.
Train your team
Unfortunately, an issue or crisis could attract media attention. In these cases, it’s important you have a spokesperson trained for media interview. Do some media training in advance to give your spokespeople the skills to control an interview – the best trained can often turn a negative interview into something really positive by having to hand well-rehearsed answers to difficult questions.
Using the potential crisis situations outlined in your crisis plan, create a series of questions a journalist is likely to ask. If you can, film the responses to ensure they can watch back and learn from any mistakes. Represent offer media training that provides senior people with a safe place to play out potential scenarios. It is a hugely valuable process that leaves participants confident and prepared to handle whatever tricky media questions they are faced with.
It makes sense for you to be prepared to handle crisis management in schools as a crisis can flare up from nowhere and can spread quickly. What used to be the ‘Golden Hour’ in which you must respond, the timescales are much shorter. By getting one step ahead you can ensure your team is prepared and ready to take control. How you respond to a crisis can make or break a reputation – it is often not the issue that people remember, it’s how you respond.
By investing in crisis planning and media training you are protecting your brand – your most valuable asset.