On any given day in a public school district, emergencies may occur at various school campuses. At one school, an electrical outage may be causing disruptions to digital media. Another campus may be on lock down due to police activity in the neighborhood. One school may be dispelling rumors that a student brought a weapon, and another school may be dismissing early because of sewage problems.
As a school communicator, your job is to report emergencies such as these to parents at any hour. You know that parents expect and want reassurance that students are safe. You know they want facts about the situation and what actions are addressing it.
School communicators who are adding digital media to their district’s crisis communications plans provide the immediate information and timely updates that parents want.
Digital Media Applications
If you or other district officials are unsure about using digital media for crisis communications, here are several applications for consideration.
Websites generally present district and school information, accomplishments, policies, and news. During emergencies, the school and district websites become platforms for detailed emergency news. Posting news in red or in a box indicates the urgency of the information.
Depending on the school community, posting the information in a second language as well as in English is often needed. If parents do not understand the message, it will not be helpful to them.
Special editions of district and campus electronic news also provide factual information and updates. Electronic news shares your story and provides an opportunity to clarify rumors and news media reports.
Email is a way to provide facts and to include attachments such as a letter to parents or a police crime alert. Twitter and Facebook are also useful to push out emergency news.
Recorded phone messaging and text messaging provide brief and rapid notifications. The messages are sent to any or all of the phones and devices that parents choose.
Digital Media Support
Parents have their own preferences as to how they want to receive information. By sending similar messages in multiple ways, parents are more likely to find out what they want to know in a timely manner.
Most school communicators who are incorporating digital media in their crisis communications plans are pleased with the results. Parent feedback helps to reinforce that these efforts are effective and appreciated.
Utilizing your district’s available digital media for emergency communications is certainly a worthwhile endeavor to try.
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