On behalf of Oklahoma and OkSPRA members, thank you for all the messages of concern and offers of help. We know many of our NSPRA colleagues have been through similar situations and we appreciate your contributions and advice.
It’s still too early to comprehend all of the outcomes from this week’s outbreak of deadly storms in Oklahoma, but it is a good time to recognize the incredible job that our fellow PR pros are doing under very difficult circumstances. Keep up the good work!
Some tips to keep in mind as we all review our crisis communications plans include:
- Social media can play a huge role in keeping the public informed, but those same channels make it too easy for rumors and misinformation to spread quickly. It’s important for a school district to have established official, branded outlets that can be timely sources of information the public can trust and reference.
- Facebook has a feature named “pin to top” that will ensure your most vital and latest information stays at the top of your district’s page. This will keep your official announcements from getting pushed down in the timeline. After making a post, hover over the top right corner of the post, click on the pencil icon (“edit or remove”), and then click “pin to top”.
- Have the ability to post to your social media channels from somewhere other than your office. Make the connections needed to use your smartphone, tablet or home computer remotely. Then try them out, without the pressure of a crisis looming over you.
- Cell phone traffic quickly overwhelms available networks, and calls can’t get through. Text messages, though, use a different spectrum and are more likely to work. Consider this as you make plans on how to communicate with staff and patrons when the crisis occurs.
- Have a “fail-over” system in place for your district website. If your school’s site is hosted on-site and the servers are destroyed or disabled by the disaster, a key communication channel has been lost. Talk with your counterparts at nearby districts to make arrangements for “mirrored” sites that can be deployed quickly in the event of an emergency. Although more costly, another solution is to have a mirrored site running through a third-party hosting facility.
Several OKSPRA members, along with school PR pros from Joplin, Mo., are now supporting the Moore Public Schools. Check out the Facebook page they already created for Moore.