Butler University Crisis Communication Plan
A variety of crises necessitate the implementation of a
communications plan. A crisis is broadly defined as a situation
that affects or threatens to dramatically affect the lives, health
and property of the campus community or which may adversely impact
the operation, reputation or normal activities of the University.
Careful preparation, planning and complete honesty may reduce the
tarnishing effects of a crisis.
I. Formation of Emergency Operations Team
For all crisis situations, the Director of Public Safety/Chief
of Police is the first contact and assumes responsibility for
notifying the Vice President for Operations. The VP for Operations
will then notify BUPD to send out an Instant Alert Plus message to
the Emergency Operations Team, calling them together.
Emergency Operations Team (EOT) Members
- Executive Director of Public Safety, Chief of Staff -
- University President
- Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
- Vice President for Operations
- Vice President for Student Affairs
- Vice President for Advancement
- Vice President for Finance
- Vice President for Enrollment Management
- Executive Director for University Relations
- Executive Director, Clowes Memorial Hall
- Executive Director, Organizational Development
- Chief Information Officer, Information Resources
- Athletic Director
Individuals who work in areas affected by the crisis may also be
asked to serve on the Emergency Operations Team.
Once convened, the Emergency Operations Team will complete the
initial Crisis Assessment checklist (see Appendix A) and develop a
communications plan for the Public Relations staff to execute.
II. Meeting Locations/Assignments
A minimum of five working locations may be required
during a crisis.
Location #1/Emergency Operations Team
Site: First choice: VP for Operations Office; Second choice:
Clowes Donor Room
Who reports: Emergency Operations Team
Assignments: Develop strategies, course of action, and statement
for media and the public
Location #2/At the Scene of the Emergency
Site: Scene of emergency
Who reports: BUPD, Director of Public Relations (if not with EOT;
backup would be Associate Director of Public Relations)
Assignments: Gather information and report back to Emergency
Operations Team. Establish contact with agency PIOs and work on
joint statement if appropriate. Handle any media on location.
Location #3/Communications Work Room
Site: First choice: JH 140 (UR office); Second choice: HB 317
Who reports: Associate Director of Public Relations, University
Relations Secretary, Department Intern, *Directors of Print
Marketing and Communications, Web Marketing and Communications and
Conferences and Special Events, if needed.
Assignments: Draft and send external/internal announcements, post
information on web, field calls.
Location #4/Media Work Room
Should a crisis hit Butler that draws a large number of media
representatives, they will be asked to gather and work from an
assigned media work room.
Site: First choice: Clowes Krannert Room; Second choice: AU
Who reports: Associate Director of Public Relations
Assignments: Assist the media in gathering updated information.
Collect questions to be answered by spokesperson.
Location #5/Student Call Center
Should a crisis hit Butler or the country (e.g., 9/11) that
would inhibit the use of cell phones, students would be able to
contact family members from an assigned call center.
Site: JH 47 (Ruffalo Cody Call Center)
Who reports: Student Affairs Dean
Assignments: Assist students with placing calls. Answer any
questions they have.
III. Target Internal/External Audiences
- Campus community (students, faculty, staff)
- Area schools, daycares, churches
IV. Communications Methods
The following communication methods may be used in a crisis
situation to relay critical information to our target audiences.
The content for all messages will be determined by the Emergency
Operations Team or EOT Team Leader, if the team has not yet
Instant Alert Plus
Instant Alert Plus may be used in conjunction with InformaCast to
initially notify the campus of the crisis situation. The Instant
Alert Plus message will be sent by a member of the BUPD or PR
InformaCast may be used in conjunction with Instant Alert Plus to
initially notify the campus of the crisis situation. The
InformaCast message will be sent by a member of the BUPD or PR
Butler University Website (can also use Alumni,
Athletics, and Clowes sites if appropriate)
A message about the crisis situation may be posted on the homepage,
www.butler.edu. This message may be updated
throughout the crisis situation. All messages will be posted by a
member of the PR staff.
All Campus Email
All campus emails reach students, faculty and staff via their
Butler email account. All campus emails may be used throughout the
crisis to communicate new developments to the campus community. All
campus emails will be sent by a member of the PR staff.
All Campus Voicemail
All campus voicemails reach students, faculty and staff via their
office phone, dorm/apartment phone or Greek house phone. All campus
voicemails may be used throughout the crisis to communicate new
developments to the campus community. All campus voicemails will be
sent by a member of the PR staff.
A message about the crisis situation may be sent to Angie Hewitt
for posting on the main campus phone line (800) 368-6852. The
message may also be sent to the operators on duty to share with
Crisis Information Line (located in University Relations
A message about the crisis situation may be recorded on the crisis
information line by a member of the PR staff. This number may be
included on all campus emails, media statements and on the Butler
The local media may be utilized to communicate information to
Butler's neighbors and the larger Indianapolis community. A
strategy for approaching the media will be determined by the
Emergency Operations Team. Any information released to the media
will be monitored by the PR staff and quickly corrected when errors
Nortel Backup Phones
Nortel backup phones may be utilized to relay important information
from one department to another when the CISCO IP Phones are
inoperable. A list of department's with Nortel backup phones and
their numbers can be found in section VI.
V. Guiding Principles for Crisis Communications
In a crisis, Butler University will survive by reacting quickly,
showing compassion and taking responsibility.
Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the
Telling the truth is always the right thing to do and the one
way to ensure that little to no damage will come to the credibility
of the University. Frequently, not telling the truth leads to two
- The truth will always come out. The exposure of the dishonesty
increases the impact of the crisis and causes the individuals and
the institution to lose all credibility.
- The rumor mill. Although honest information is the only way to
communicate in a crisis situation, official channels of
communication do not always tie up loose ends. In these situations,
the "rumor mill" often becomes the trusted source for information.
Work with Ice Miller LLP to make sure as much information as
possible can be released without jeopardizing possible litigation
or forthcoming investigation. The lawyers shouldn't have the final
say in what goes out, but they may help avoid an inadvertent
Gather accurate, thorough information and communicate that
information as it becomes available. Waiting to go public about a
crisis until every detail pertaining to the situation has been
investigated could intensify the incident.
Speak with One Voice
In crisis situations, all messages must be 100 percent accurate
and consistent. In most cases, the spokesperson should be the
person possessing the most direct knowledge of the crisis. The
Public Relations office will assist the spokesperson in preparation
and advice, as well as offer comments to the media when needed.
VI. Important Phone Numbers
- American Red Cross, Marion County Chapter - 684-1441
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) -
- Crisis and Suicide Line - 251-7575
- Environmental Emergencies - (888) 233-7745
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - 639-3301
- Clarian North - 688-2042
- Methodist - 962-2000
- St. Vincent - 338-2442
- Wishard - 630-8485
- Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) -
233-7745 (24/7 line)
- Indiana Emergency Response Commission - 232-3830
- Indiana Poison Center - (800) 222-1222
- Indiana State Department of Health - 233-1325
- Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department - 911 or
- Indianapolis Fire Department - 911 or 327-6041
- Marion County Health Department - 221-2000
- Marion County Local Emergency Planning Committee -
- National Response Center (hazardous spills) - (800)
- Road Information - 232-8300
- U.S. Marshal - 226-6566
- U.S. Secret Service - 226-6444
Nortel Backup Phones
||Telecom Room (basement Jordan)
||HB - 150 Computer room
||Deputy Chief's Office
||BUPD Main Phone
||Resco Main Office
||Ross Main Office
||Schwitzer Main Office
||UT - Office
||Health and Counseling Center
||Clowes Coat Room
||Clowes Command Center
||Facility and Maintenance Conference Room
||GH 294/Second Floor Copy Room
||Men's Basketball Office
||Robertson Sitting Room
VII. Aftermath Component
Following any crisis, appropriate action must take place to
ensure that members of the university community, and others as
necessary, receive needed information and assistance to help bring
closure to the crisis as well as relief from the effects of the
event. Attention also should be placed on identifying and
implementing measures to improve the action plan used during the
crisis. Some examples include:
- A public meeting should be scheduled to communicate details of
the incident and events to all interested members of the
university. The timeliness of this meeting is critical.
- Immediately following a crisis, it is imperative that the
university be sensitive to the needs of faculty, staff, students
and guests who may have been personally affected by the disaster.
Messages may be sent to provide comfort to the campus
- Depending upon the nature of the crisis, services and
assistance may have been rendered by agencies, companies and/or
individuals from outside the university. The University Relations
department should ensure that applicable follow-up information is
forwarded to appropriate persons, as well as thank you
The Emergency Operations Team shall meet within days following a
crisis to review the actions taken and determine the effectiveness
and efficiency of the response.
Butler University Crisis Communication Plan
Crisis Assessment Checklist
- What is the subject matter of the crisis?
- Who identified the situation? When and through what
- When did the event happen? Pinpoint exact time and location, if
- Has the event resulted in personal injury, death or damage to
the University? In what manner?
- Who is involved in the crisis? (i.e. person's injured,
witnesses, persons whose property was damaged, etc.) Gather name,
address, phone number, association with university and who he/she
is involved in crisis.
- What is the probable cause?
- What has been done to immediately contain or rectify the
- Who is aware of this crisis thus far? How were they notified?
Who still needs to be notified? How will we communicate?
- Has the University received any media inquires? Who, how many
and what was
asked and relayed?
- Should campus safety plans (i.e. secure facilities, shelter in
place) be activated?
- What are the legal and ethical implications?
- What are the worst case scenarios? How will they be
- Who is our spokesperson?
- What is the plan for assisting those affected by crisis?