Student Housing Crisis Management Plan + Strategy
-Sabrina Leon, Senior PR Account Executive
A crisis can rear its ugly head any time and in many forms ranging from natural disasters (i.e., tornados, floods, etc.) to a student-related shooting on your property. Any crisis can damage a student housing community’s brand/reputation, but those who make it through with the least amount of damage have three things going for them:
- They already have a crisis management plan in place
- They have a robust crisis management plan, strategy, and designated team
- They know how to deal with angry parents.
Crisis Management Plan
In the student housing industry, it’s usually a question of “when” not “if” a crisis will hit your community, so it’s smart to prepare ahead of time. Having a crisis management plan in place takes the guesswork out of what your team needs to do when a crisis hits. It’s a navigational roadmap constructed specifically for your location and management team.
At Serendipit, we’ve created in-depth crisis management plans for our clients that include a communication strategy, emergency procedures, a daily crisis log, a communication matrix, and targeted media lists for your location. There are also examples of incident PR and communication support materials, including key messages, email communication for residents and parents, media statements, and more.
The last thing a community wants is for a crisis to happen. When the staff is unprepared, it only makes everything worse. Just picture it: something horrible has happened, and now the media shows up at your community asking questions. That’s a lot of instant pressure, and there’s far too much room to make mistakes. Proper communication to send out to residents and parents hasn’t even been thought of yet. The onsite team hasn’t been briefed, or the wrong person is speaking to the media. Having a crisis management plan in place gets your entire team on the same page, provides a clearly defined process and designated roles. A crisis plan reduces the chance for error and makes the process of going through a crisis more seamless and less stressful.
Crisis Management Strategy
Having a crisis management plan is a smart first step, but if you’ve ever been through a crisis, you know how quickly things can escalate. A couple of wrong moves and your brand reputation might not be able to recover fully. This is the point where a crisis management strategy comes into play. Being strategic when it comes to communication is going to be crucial throughout the whole situation. Having an expert crisis team like Serendipit Consulting can help you navigate all that is happening.
Depending on the situation, a crisis management strategy may unfold like this:
- Creating an email blast to be sent to all residents and parents. This email will inform them of the situation and any actions they need to take or let them know that more information is coming.
- Crafting a media statement to inform them about the situation and what actions are being taken to defuse it.
Having a team well versed in crisis management can help you come up with a customized crisis management strategy that will put your community in the best light possible.
How To Deal With Angry Parents
Dealing with angry parents can sometimes be more challenging than working with residents who are directly affected by the crisis. The most important thing to remember is to put yourself in their shoes — their babies are going through this, and if they’re out of state or not close by, they feel helpless. Communicating with parents quickly and often will help them feel informed, involved, and ultimately a bit more at ease.
Depending on the situation, you may need to set up a call team to take calls from parents and residents. Nothing makes parents angrier than repeatedly getting sent to voicemail or a phone that always rings out. Having a communication plan in place is still the best preparation for the worst.
A crisis can happen to any student housing community at any time. Have a crisis management plan in place, a crisis management strategy for when a crisis hits, and an understanding of how to deal with angry parents. It can make all the difference to your brand reputation.
Need help? Let’s talk!