Crisis Communication Procedure | KCTCS

Administrative Procedures

Crisis Communication Procedure

Procedure Number: 4.23-P

Current Effective Date: 05/07/2020

Original Effective Date: 05/07/2020

Revision Dates: 0

Revision Number: 0

Revision Summary: new policy and procedure created

Responsible Official: KCTCS President

References: Administrative Policy 4.23


1. Purpose

The purpose of this Crisis Communication Procedure is to clearly define processes associated with Administrative Policy 4.23 Crisis Communication Policy. 

Whenever possible, KCTCS will adopt a proactive approach to external and internal communications during crisis situations that maintains and enhances the reputation of the institution. Additionally, the System Office (SO) and College Marketing Departments shall ensure that communications are properly coordinated, reviewed and approved before being released, either internally or externally.

2. Scope

This Procedure applies to all KCTCS Colleges, employees, students, offices and workplaces, regardless of location and to all KCTCS-related conduct, policies, decisions and actions.

3. General Procedures

3.1 Notifying Marketing

  1. To help develop a response strategy as efficiently as possible, avoid media blindsides, and quell rumors, Employees shall notify the respective College or System Office Marketing Departments of any crisis situation as early as possible.
    • The Marketing Department shall gather and verify information in a crisis and is the only System Office or College department authorized to release information.

    • A representative of the department impacted by the crisis will provide the Marketing Department with all relevant details/facts as they learn them.

    • Employees shall direct all media and other individuals, whether internal or external, to the Marketing Department (SO and/or College depending on where the crisis occurs).

  2. In accordance with the Crisis Management Plan, if a crisis originates at the SO or a College, the System Director of Emergency Operations shall alert the SO Marketing Department of actual and likely crises occurring on or in proximity to the SO or a KCTCS campus, involving KCTCS employees, students or operations or any other crisis likely to significantly impact a KCTCS entity. Notice shall be given as promptly as possible.     

    At the Colleges, Safety/Security Officers shall notify their Marketing Departments as described in Section A.

  3. SO personnel shall notify the SO Marketing Department of any threats, potential lawsuits, open records requests, student conduct issues or any other situation likely to lead to media scrutiny, political fallout, and other external or internal crisis communication needs.

  4. In accordance with the KCTCS Crisis Management Plan, the SO and Colleges will have crisis management teams that help keep leadership apprised of potential crises and work with the safety/security officers to provide accurate, timely information to keep stakeholders informed. This includes informing stakeholders of when a crisis situation is over.

4. Procedures for Smoldering Crises

4.1  System Office Crises

  1. System Director of Emergency Operations, President or Cabinet members will immediately notify the Marketing Department of the crisis/potential crisis. Marketing Department staff will confer with appropriate leadership or other subject matter experts to assess the nature and severity of the crisis and develop a strategy to handle the communication. The crisis communication team, established by the KCTCS Crisis Management Plan, may convene, if needed.

 4.2 College Crises

  1. Director of Safety/Security, President or leadership team members will immediately notify the College Marketing Department of the crisis/potential crisis. Marketing Department staff will confer with appropriate leadership or other subject matter experts to assess the nature and severity of the crisis and develop a strategy to handle the communication. If needed, College will work with SO Marketing Department to develop strategies and messaging. An ad hoc crisis team consisting of only those pertinent to the situation may be formed by the SO President for strategy development. (See Crisis Communication Matrix in the manual for details about notifying the SO Marketing Department.)

5. Procedures for Sudden Crises

5.1  Sudden Crises

  1.  When a sudden crisis occurs the Marketing Department will:
    • Be notified immediately.
    • Be apprised of all facts/background information.
    • Have direct access to KCTCS President, incident commander or designee to develop a first wave communication strategy.
    • Implement the strategy immediately upon approval by the KCTCS President, incident commander, or their designee.

  2. Under the ICS, Marketing Department staff may serve as the public information officer (PIO), if designated by the Incident Commander. In some cases, information to the media will be disseminated by a member of the KCTCS cabinet/college leadership team, law enforcement or other first responders.
  3. The Marketing Department will work closely with KCTCS/College President, Employee Relations, Human Resources, General Counsel and others regarding internal communication strategies and release of information.

  4. Colleges will follow the Crisis Communication Matrix in the Crisis Communication Manual regarding when the SO Marketing Department must be notified. Colleges are encouraged to reach out to SO Marketing and Communication staff for any assistance or input needed at any time during a crisis.

6. Procedures for Releasing Public Information

6.1 Public Information

  1. The Marketing Department will supply accurate details to the media as rapidly as possible, taking care not to release more information than appropriate under the circumstances. After releasing information, the Marketing Department will monitor news coverage and quickly correct any errors.

  2. The Marketing Department will use the following methods of communicating to external audiences: 
    • Email – Statements, press releases
    • Phone
    • In-person – Press conferences/media briefings
    • Websites
    • Social media
    • Text messaging

7. Procedures for Releasing Internal Information

7.1 Internal Information  

  1. SO and College Marketing Departments will make every effort to notify internal audiences before any communications are released to the public. Although this may not always be possible, it is of utmost importance that internal audiences have facts so they can help quell the spread of misinformation.

  2. Goals for Internal Communications:
    • Build trust.
    • Make sure internal audiences hear from us before they hear news from the media.
    • Provide context, information, and next steps.
    • Enable internal audiences to feel they have answers so they can serve as ambassadors for the institution.

  3.  Internal communications include, but are not limited to:
    • SO All email
    • SNAP emergency notification system
    • Morning Buzz
    • KCTCScoop
    • Plasma screens
    • KNECT
    • Forums/meetings
    • Text messaging

  4. The Marketing Department will coordinate with the KCTCS and/or College President’s Office on notification of other parties likely to be affected by or strongly interested in the crisis such as KCTCS Board of Regents, College boards, KCTCS and College Foundation Boards, workforce partners, legislators, SO/campus neighbors, etc.

    Whenever practical, attempts will be made to:
    • Inform affected parties of impending media calls.
    • Supply them with written information before it is distributed to the news media.
    • Notify them of any planned KCTCS news briefings.

The SO/College official with the closest working relationship to the interested parties will handle the actual notification.

8. Evaluation and Follow Up

The Marketing Department will document news coverage, including social media posts, print articles and radio and television broadcasts to create a report to be shared with leadership. Leadership will review the report and evaluate the team’s performance to determine what worked well and what can be improved. The team also will self-evaluate.