WCU to offer workshop on crisis communications planning and response

September 5, 2017

Western Carolina University’s Office of Professional Growth and Enrichment will offer a workshop on Crisis Communications Planning and Response Friday, October 13, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its instructional site at Biltmore Park in Asheville, N.C. 

Workshop participants will explore best practices for communicating before, during, and after a crisis. The program is appropriate for all types of organizational representatives, including governmental, educational, manufacturing, healthcare, entertainment, restaurants, nonprofits, and religious organizations. 

“Crises are everywhere, and all types of organizations are vulnerable,” said workshop leader Dr. Betty Farmer, professor of communication and public relations at WCU and owner of Farmer Communications, a consulting firm that provides crisis communications services. 

“Manufacturers experience serious accidents and product recalls. Restaurants reel from outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. Educational institutions, entertainment venues and churches deal with deadly shootings. The question is not if, but when a crisis is going to happen, and we need to be ready. It used to be that organizations had a few hours to respond, but with social media, an immediate response is now needed. If an organization does not have a Crisis Communication Plan (CCP) in place that covers social media policy during crisis, the organization is not prepared,” Farmer said. 

How organizations communicate before, during and after a crisis can have a profound impact on reputation and brand, community relations, customer loyalty, and the bottom line, according to Farmer. 

In addition to covering critical crisis communications principles, the workshop will explore the importance of leadership communication, as well as provide guidelines for managing social media during crises. Participants will receive a digital template for a basic CCP, and will have the opportunity to begin drafting their plan during the workshop. Attendees who already have a CCP are invited to bring their plans for refining and updating. To promote collaboration, multiple members of an organization’s crisis team are invited to attend this workshop. Attendees are also encouraged to bring laptop computers to the session. 

Early registration, before Sept. 15, is $119; after Sept. 15 registration will be $149. 

Six professional development credits will be available at the successful completion of the program. For more information, visit learn.wcu.edu/pdworkshops or contact Jill Thompson, associate director of professional development, at jcthompson@wcu.edu or call 828-227-3070. 

While available to all interested individuals, the workshop is also part of WCU’s new Event Planning Certificate Program (http://www.wcu.edu/engage/community-resources/profdev/Event-Planning/index.aspx)