There is no single way to contact students during a crisis like a natural disaster. The best crisis communication plan delivers the message through various mediums. Students and faculty will likely flock to the school's main website for information regarding closings and cancellations during a disaster event.
But as we witnessed during Hurricane Sandy, colleges need to be ready to take advantage of social media to engage with their communities. Fordham University, located in the Bronx, lost access to its website and e-mail system as a result of a power outage. They took to Facebook and Twitter to keep students and faculty informed. Students also posted questions on various social media sites that were answered within minutes.
These two pages became the hub of all communication for the administrators and they successfully leveraged the power of social media to keep information flowing freely.
The infographic below outlines how colleges should approach social media as a crisis management tool. It states that just 85% of colleges have crisis communication policies, and of those, only 59% address social media. As we saw in Hurricane Sandy, it is crucial to have a communication plan that dictates who will update Twitter and Facebook, when the messages will be posted and how comments will be responded to.
Has your college ever activated social media in a crisis situation?