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Oregon School Shooting: a textbook crisis communications response

By James Fitzpatrick


Last week we shared an article on the importance of having one source of the truth during a critical incident or emergency. We highlighted the necessity of establishing an easily accessible spot where all stakeholders know to go for the most up to date and reliable information.

As we were preparing that article for our monthly newsletter, yet another mass shooting occurred at a university, this time at the Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

The October 1 shooting claimed ten lives, including that of the shooter, and injured many more.

In response to the tragedy, the community college enacted textbook crisis communications procedures, reframing the homepage of its website to be the one source of the key messages it needed to distribute to its stakeholders.

They had replaced the main banner and prime placeholder at the top of the page with a scrolling montage of four key messages, each with links to further information relevant to that particular message.

Message One: immediate logsitical information - i.e. campus closure dates and cancelled events - and tribute to victims


Message Two: Mental health and social support services, hotlines, and links


Message Three: Message from the College President


Message Four: Link to the college foundation and victim's donation fund


UCC's response in reframing the homepage of their website with their four key messages is a great example of the one-source-of-the-truth and central communications point that is consistent with best practice in crisis communications.

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