SUGGESTIONS FOR DEALING WITH THE MEDIA
FACTS OF LIFE
If something even resembling violence happens on one of your campuses,
chances are the media will be there to cover it, and sometimes they
will know before you will.....
We are not able to prevent crises from occurring but we can control
the conditions in which we work through one and we do that through our
district's crisis plan.
RULE ONE (THE ONLY RULE)
- Have individual school and district fact sheets prepared.
- Identify a communication center and a separate media briefing area
for each campus (this should be done together with the principal and
the head of school security).
- Pick the media briefing area carefully:
- do not pick the area based on a site map
- the area should be easily accessible to the media
- the area should NOT give the media immediate and/or easy access
to the campus.
- The communication center is where all internal information flows
to and from.
- Make site maps of all your schools once the communication center
and media briefing areas are chosen, making sure each is clearly marked
on the site map.
- Distribute the maps to educational teams.
- Meet with the media spokespersons from your local police and fire
departments and, if you are near a military installation, the public
affairs officer. Review your plan and site maps so they know where
to go, plus they will know who you are and will be more likely to
stay in contact with your during a crisis (establishing rapport with
those teams is very important).
- Identify your school/crisis spokesperson and do not change your
choice (if you have a public relations office, they should handle
this duty because it frees up school personnel and they have access
to pertinent school information).
- If possible, individual school personnel should not speak with the
- In a crisis situation and after the original media release is completed,
the media should be updated every half-hour for the first two hours
and then hourly thereafter, even if it means telling them there is
nothing new to report.
- Later briefings should contain information regarding steps the school
will be taking the following day, i.e. checking school bags, increased
police presence, need to show ID, etc.
- Since a recent poll noted that more than 65% of Americans get their
news from television, prepare your media releases for TV broadcast.
If there is a crisis at your school, the large majority of parents
will be tuning in to the TV news that night.
- Try to be in the media briefing room before media arrive in the
morning. If there is no new news, it is a good opportunity to note
your district's concern for safety of the students, review steps being
taken to secure the campus, etc., plus the district's record for having
safe schools. These reports will make the noon news because you have
established yourself as their only source of news until students come.
- Understand that the media needs a story... let it be a controlled,
child-focused story that will help restore the safety and security
of the children.
KRIS SIECKERT ED.S, NCSP
Oconomowoc Area School District
JIM CUMMINGS PR DIRECTOR PHOENIX, ARIZONA