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Governance and Policy ResourcesResearch, guidance and services for effective school board governance

Communicating effectively in crisis situations involves four distinct stages:

  • Pre-crisis planning
  • Managing the crisis event
  • Post-crisis review
  • Rebuilding

Common mistakes include ignoring the signs of crisis, failing to engage in pre-crisis planning, and mismanaging the crisis by failing to communicate or being inaccessible to the media or constituents. Using the wrong spokesperson, or inconsistent and vague messaging, as well as allowing others to frame the issue for you, are common pitfalls.

Manage the crisis

Employ these tips to manage a crisis effectively:

  • Implement your district’s crisis communications plan
  • Use board meetings strategically to keep the community informed
  • Leverage positive relationships inside and outside the district
  • Call upon experts to help
  • Communicate openly and honestly
  • Be accessible
  • Correct errors

Channels of communication that work:

  • Face to face (internal first then external)
  • Opinion leaders – formal and informal
  • Electronic/print communication
  • Media (traditional and social)

For more information about working effectively with the media, see "911! A manual for schools and the media during a campus crisis," from CSBA.