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6 Keys to Creating Your Company’s Crisis Communication Plan

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According to CNN, around 8,000 schools worldwide were using Finalsite software. Then they discovered ransomware in the system.

That was 8,000 schools (and one company) with a big PR problem. Ransomware attacks like this one have been on the rise. Parents, students, and administrators want to know their data is safe, and they’ll look for someone to blame if it isn’t. As an edtech vendor, here’s the question you should be asking: “How many of those schools had prepared for a reputation crisis like this one? Did they have a plan?” 

Schools are the targets of hackers, online trolls, and public scrutiny.  The companies that provide curriculum, materials, and education technology are, too. If you serve the education market, you should take steps now and not wait till a reputation crisis occurs.

On a recent episode of The Education Insider podcast, our co-founder and CEO Jacob Hanson interviewed Kristen Plemon. They talked about PR, Communications, and Crisis Planning for the Education Market. Kristen is not only our Director of Strategic Storytelling and Client Success — she’s also a leading expert in public relations, crisis planning, and crisis management for the edtech market.

Want to learn more about Crisis Planning with PRP?

Crisis Planning and Management

Based on the conversation between Jacob and Kristen, here are some key steps to take if you work in the education market and want to prepare for a PR crisis.

  • Put together a crisis communication plan or review the one you’ve got. (For more details about putting together a plan, be sure to listen to the episode on your favorite podcast platform. If you still need help, send us a message.)
  • Think about the most likely crisis scenarios for your business. Are you heavy social media users? Do you store customer data in the cloud? Your answers to questions like these will help you know what to focus on first.
  • Prepare statements in advance for the most likely scenarios. Make sure that you can tweak your prepared statements to fit whatever specific scenario occurs.
  • Plan a workflow so that you don’t panic. Who will do what, when, and who will respond after that?
  • Consider every situation on its merits and gather data before making a statement. You should never speculate when you make a public statement.
  • To address some issues before they become public, consider hiring a DEI coordinator. Oh, and be sure to listen to our episode How Edtech Providers Can Support DEI Efforts with Jacob's sister Ali.

If you have a plan that you share with your team, you’ll never have to go it alone when a crisis comes up. Your employees can speak to what kind of reactions they are seeing and hearing. For example, is that rude tweet a lone troll or a legitimate PR crisis? Your employees are also affected by the decisions you make. They want you to hear them too.

Most of these steps don’t take long, and the upfront investment is worth it. If you’re online in 2022, it’s only a matter of time before you encounter a reputation crisis. Don’t ask if you’ll have to use your plan, ask when you’ll have to use your plan. A crisis is coming, and preparedness can make the difference between a long, drawn-out scandal or a smooth resolution.

Need help with your crisis plan? Reach out today!

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