Public Relations Emergencies
While public scandals are rare in higher education, virtually every institution must occasionally deal with such situations. This might involve a highly visible lawsuit, accusations of wrongdoing on the part of a university official, an egregious case of student misconduct or a variety of unspecified events that carry the potential of having a negative impact on the institution’s reputation. The impact of these events is exacerbated when they result in potential or actual news coverage.
When such events occur, the Director of University Relations, in close consultation with the Chancellor may consider the following responsibilities:
- Assessment of the potential impact on the university’s reputation.
- Legal implications of the event; laws and policies pertaining to its disposition.
- Recommendations on steps to diffuse or eliminate the problem before it goes public; or when that is not possible, steps to lessen the negative impact on the university’s reputation.
- Development of messages and channels of communication to the various constituents (including the news media) associated with the event. Assurance that all privacy laws are obeyed and freedom of information is respected.