Crisis Communication Protocol
Crisis communications relates to both emergencies and controversial issues. Emergencies include but are not limited to: fires, bomb threats, terrorist acts, earthquakes and other natural and man-made disasters. Controversial issues include: alleged improper, unethical or illegal conduct by members of the University community, police and other agency investigations, internal hearings or litigation involving the University or members of the University community, student protests, and other situations that reflect upon the institution’s reputation.
The Crisis Communications outline is designed to provide information on how to respond to inquiries in situations and in connection with controversial issues. When there is an indication of a potential crisis or controversy involving Suffolk University, whether before or after exposure to the media, preparation for a timely, accurate response to the situation is primarily the responsibility of the Office of Public Affairs. The Director of Public Affairs will be responsible for interpreting information for dissemination to the University and the media. If the Office of Public Affairs cannot provide all of the needed information, it will contact the appropriate individual to gather the necessary information, or will coordinate with the appropriate person to speak with the media.
Assess the situation:
The Incident Command System Core Team will be notified of any crisis situation. Since this team includes the Office of Public Affairs, that office will be involved at this point. The Incident Commander or Incident Command Core Team should determine whether it is actually a crisis and, if so, gather complete and accurate information from the appropriate sources as quickly as possible. This information should be communicated immediately to the Office of Public Affairs.
The Crisis Management Team will convene at a designated Emergency Communication Center.
The Director of Public Affairs will consult with the President and University Counsel to determine whether an immediate response (internal and external) is necessary or advisable.
Following discussion among The CMT will contact appropriate internal and external constituencies. a decision will be made as to whom internal and external to the University should be contacted. If the crisis is of major proportions the Director of Public Affairs will consult with the President and University Counsel before taking further action.
All communications (telephone calls and correspondence) from outside attorneys and all legal documents should immediately be referred to University Counsel for response.
Each manager should have a communication “web” for his/her department, listing phone numbers and contact order, should an emergency situation arise. Please be sure to gather the necessary information as soon as possible so that notification of a crisis can be given in a timely fashion.