Friday, July 20, 2012

Take Your Moon Shot

ADDENDUM, 2:35 p.m. -- I wrote this late last night, and posted this morning before I read the news.  At the risk of some offense, I want to urge you even more so to think about -- what if that theater was in my college town.  What if I had students involved in that event?  Who saw that coming?  Please, please, please -- do your Moon Shot today.  You have every reason in the world now to think about your crisis plans.

A few weeks back, I urged you to take a moment to pull the crisis communications plan down off the shelf, dust it off and at least do a table top exercise.

You really meant to do that, but the media guide was on deadline and now well fall drills are just around the corner.

And you really want to bring the cabinet together, but there are some 10-month folks and vacations are here between the end of summer session two and fall registration.

Athletic or academic -- they both have their reasons why.  Let's call them what they are -- excuses.

Joseph Brennan prompts me to rattle your collective cages again with his post on Zehno about 12 Rules for Surviving on the Front Lines in a crisis.  Take a moment and read through.

I was a big fan of #10 -- as Joe talks about learning your FEMA terms -- but his #1 is about as good as it gets anytime.  He quotes Lori Doyle, Senior Vice President of University Communications at Drexel University:

A crisis has to be managed methodically, not hysterically

Now, do you really think you'll do well in a crisis having not taken some time to train?

When the AD says there's no need or time for this, ask him if he thinks it would be acceptable for the basketball coach to send a player to the free throw line with the conference championship on the line who had not been practicing free throws.  Joe has a big pull quote on the side of his blog that captures that a little less colorfully:

Have a policy and plan in place before disaster strikes.

So here's my modest proposal.  Since that Penn State-Arkansas-TCU level athletic event or Katrina-scale natural disaster or Virginia Tech campus incident is about as likely to happen on your campus as a man in the moon, take today, July 20, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 astronauts stepping on the moon, and do that drill.

Get your staff.  Find the emergency plan.  Take your one small step for your department to help avert a giant disaster.

If no one wants to join you in the war games, here are some links to how to define your crisis, learning to work with local emergency professionals, who will tell your bad news, crisis work in general, avoiding self-inflicted crisis and a great new book in the field.

If you want to learn about FEMA's Incident Command System, many of the courses are on-line for training.  Your must do's are the basic 100 level course, which now has its own higher education edition, and then basic public relations with FEMA's system.

Gene Kranz didn't put Neil and Buzz on the moon without procedures and checklists.

Go through yours today.

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