Monday 25 March 2019
Every year, students from a range of courses such a Public Relations, Marketing and Criminology attend the annual Crisis Simulation event. A day where students are exposed to a potential crisis and manage it by informing and responding to all stakeholders quickly and efficiently.
The day was introduced by alumni student and media relations manager, Martyna Stepien. She gave a great overview of crisis management and offered some crucial advice about the best ways of dealing with a crisis. She also highlighted the detrimental affects a crisis can have for an organisation when it isn’t managed appropriately. Martyna was informative and helped our students really understand why effective crisis management is key.
As students were sent away to their allocated rooms for the day, they were given the scenario that they worked for a University and the pretend crisis was that there was a bomb threat on campus. To make this crisis worse, the bomb threat happened on the day there was supposed to be an event at the University with local celebrities attending. As each hour ticked past, the crisis got progressively worse and the students were faced with angry and scared staff, students and local community members all demanding information about their welfare and whether they were in danger or not.
It was important for the students to prioritise their stakeholders and keep them informed by using many different channels and platforms. Throughout the day, social media posts, press releases and video and vice chancellor statements were produced to communicate effectively and update stakeholders on the crisis. The students decided to postpone the celebrity event, and so in turn they were faced with a backlash from angry attendees who had bought tickets for the event or had already started travelling to Southampton.
The students working for the pretend University were not only professional and informative with their responses, but they also conveyed sympathy and compassion throughout the difficult and stressful time for their stakeholders. Support telephone numbers and email addresses were provided to allow people to get in contact regarding any concerns or issues.
The day was concluded with reflective presentations from each group about how they dealt with the crisis and any barriers they faced during the simulation exercise. It was great to hear from students about how much they enjoyed the day and how they used their classroom learning within a real-world scenario.
Martyna concluded the day by saying: “The crisis simulation event is a highly beneficial day for young communication professionals. During the day, they were exposed to potential crisis scenarios which allowed them to apply their current knowledge in practice, these skills are highly transferable. Students should take away from the day that if there ever is a crisis, always follow the available materials in order to manage a PR crisis effectively”.
The crisis simulation event happens every year and we would love to welcome as many students as possible in 2020.