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 include:
- Executive Director of Public Safety, Chief of Staff - Team Leader
- 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 Headquarters
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 (Conference room)
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 326
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 assembled.
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 staff.
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 staff.
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 callers.
Crisis Information Line (located in University Relations office)
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 website.
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 are made.
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 Truth
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 major problems:
- 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 slip.
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) - 226-7464
- 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 327-6100
- Indianapolis Fire Department - 911 or 327-6041
- Marion County Health Department - 221-2000
- Marion County Local Emergency Planning Committee - 252-3230
- National Response Center (hazardous spills) - (800) 424-8802
- Road Information - 232-8300
- U.S. Marshal - 226-6566
- U.S. Secret Service - 226-6444
Nortel Backup Phones
|5751||Telecom Room (basement Jordan)|
|5760||HB - 150 Computer room|
|BUPD||5703||Deputy Chief's Office|
|BUPD||5701||BUPD Main Phone|
|Resco||5747||Resco Main Office|
|Ross||5748||Ross Main Office|
|Schwitzer||5749||Schwitzer Main Office|
|University Terrace||5750||UT - Office|
|Health Center||5752||Health and Counseling Center|
|Clowes||5754||Clowes Coat Room|
|Clowes||5755||Clowes Command Center|
|Facilities||5756||Facility and Maintenance Conference Room|
|Gallahue||5758||GH 294/Second Floor Copy Room|
|Hinkle||5759||Men's Basketball Office|
|Robertson||5769||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 community.
- 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 letters.
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 sources?
- When did the event happen? Pinpoint exact time and location, if possible.
- 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 situation?
- 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 confronted?
- Who is our spokesperson?
- What is the plan for assisting those affected by crisis?