Insight into the industry

28 Sep

 

I sat down with Stacey Renker, the Assistant Director of Risk and Emergency Management, under the Department of Student Life at The Ohio State University in late September, just days after the dust had settled on a large scale crisis that hit the University community.  Stacey opened up with me and gave me some tremendous insight into the industry- although not directly a consultant of Crisis Communication her role within the University overlaps quiet a bit.

Stacey has been working with OSU for 13 years, and has been in her current position for 4.5 years.  I know her because she is what we refer to as the “fire panel” lady.  Stacey comes to our building to train the RA’s about the state-of-the-art fire panel and emergency management system we have and give us information on safety procedures.  My favorite part about Stacey’s visits?  She always brings candy.  Actually, she always brings chocolate, and not those little fun sized bars that are popping up all over store shelves as we dive into the Halloween season; Stacey brings full sized chocolate candy bars to pass out to those of us who can answer her (sometimes tricky) questions.

Although my 30 minute conversation with Stacey was fantastic, she did give me a few pieces of takeaway information I want to share here.  Stacey talked about the recent event on South Campus, when a water line broke and flooded the basement of a brand new residence hall called Park-Stradley.  Stacey was one of the first on the scene of the incident, and she “was the person who pulled the mother of all pull stations to evacuate the building.”  Since water and electricity don’t mix it was important to get all of the residents of the building out and away from the building.

Stacey detailed the events that happened over the next few hours including flying her supervisor back from a business trip because she was to be the face of the media coverage, conference calls with “too many” important people on them that she needed to thin the heard, so to speak, and much more.  Stacey says she blew through her iPhone battery in just a few hours, but she also explained that it is invaluable part of how the reaction to the crisis went so well: everything she needed was right there.  She could send pictures of the damages, she had every phone number of every person she may need to contact stored away, she could check breaking news stories to make sure coverage was accurate.  We all love our technology, but I have met very few people who are as big of a fan of their iPhone as Stacey is.

Stacey says that her colleagues “all kind of know the hallmarks of good crisis communication: being visible, being composed, being vocal and being resilient.”  This is important because even though there was one person who was the face for the media, many people were involved and talking with external publics.  Stacey says that it was important to cover all groups involved, especially parents and family members.  Stacey isn’t one to mix words, and she put it all out on the table: “if you don’t communicate with the parents, keep parents in the loop you spend all your time dealing with them.”

My lunchtime interview with Stacey was great, and I want to thank her for being so open and honest with me and for taking the time to sit down with me.

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Communicating in unique ways

28 Sep

My position as a Resident Advisor (RA) on campus challenges me to communicate with multiple people on a  daily basis- my role as an RA is at it’s very basic to just be a good communicator.  I really enjoy listening to people and talking to them about their day-to-day as well as conversations that may delve a little deeper.  I aim for these deeper level conversations with residents, but they don’t always come when convenient.

One way I make sure residents know they can come to me if they just need someone to talk to is establishing rapport with them in small ways.  I have a few residents this semester who I haven’t really connected with, so recently I made these small “study kits” as surprises for 4 special residents I would like to build a stronger relationship with.  The kits included an apple and a cup of peanut butter (apple slices and peanut butter is my new addiction) as well as some trail mix and some Pixie Sticks.  I wrote short notes to each resident wishing them luck on studying for their upcoming exams and then left the little bags outside of their doors.  I hope they were excited this morning to wake up to a special surprise.

As a student of Communication I understand the value and importance of communicating with people on many different levels.  This may seem like common sense to some, but communication is not always innate in us, sometimes we need to be taught how we should communicate.

Blog Comments

19 Sep

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Sam Duff

Great blog!  I did an interview style post like this as well and it was a lot of fun.  I like the content you gave us here and how you kind of took a lecture and made it your own.

Comment #10

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Sarah Marshall

I like how this post is deeply personal but still content driven.
Good work!

Comment #9

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Tony Benedetti

Tony.
I hate to publicly shame you, but your blog is full of clouds and balloons.  Really?
You kind-of-sort-of know me so I don’t think you’ll take this the wrong way, but really?
This blog post has great content and is exactly what Mary is looking for.  Good work.

Next time I miss the blue skies I’ll just come back and visit your blog.  ;D

Comment #8

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Regina Hariston

I hate brochures.  I’ve left a comment about this on someone else’s blog, too.  I made this joke about how I have this soapbox made up of old brochures and it’s relly sturdy because of all of the folds.
I think brochures are a prime example of people not looking forward/ahead into trends and the possibilities.  It’s 2012.  We can do so much.  Why pour any time into a brochure?
#rantover
PS- Cute blog.  Good work.

Comment #7

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Patrick Cooley

Patrick,
Good post!  I like the design of your blog, but I personally have a thing against reading white text on a black background.  If you’re going to keep up with this blog I’d put your copy on a white background and make it black.  This would make your white-on-black headlines pop!  Just a thought.
You’ve obviously spent more time on your blog than I have, so good work!

Comment #6

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Killyn Dorsio

I hadn’t seen any of these, but they do bring back memories.
I will apparently die without having tried a Twinkie.  I never thought much about it until now.
Great post.  Love how you’re meeting class criteria while still making things fun and entertaining!

Comment #5

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Lisa Steffes

I hate brochures.  I love this post, but I hate brochures.
I think they’re archaic and I think people (generally) just roll their eyes anymore when you even mention the word brochure.  I have a soapbox I made up of old brochures that I glued together.  It’s sturdy because of all the folds.
Great post.  I still hate brochures.

Comment #4

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Daniel Kieffer

Love this post.  It seems like this is what we go to in the Communications world these days: fear appeals.  What people don’t look for when using these are the possibilities of consumer backlash.  Love the video and links you provided us.  Good work!

Comment #3

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Abby Dobras

This is a great post, Abby! I love that you took an assignment and put your own spin on it, because I think that applies greatly to the world of PR- we’re given a task and then need to make it our own. Thanks for the tips near the end it gave your post good content. (:

Comment #2

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Chaz’s “Comm on!” blog

Great post, Chaz! I think it would be awesome if you could share some of your graphic design work here so we could get a feel for your design aesthetic. I like the style of your blog and your writing style, so keep up the good work!
Logan Oates

Comment #1

Hello world!

14 Sep

Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!