Friday 6 March 2020
Crisis Simulation day began with senior lecturer Lynsey Watt introducing the students to the event, before inviting Martyna Stepien, Media Relations Manager at Zurich Insurance and Solent Public Relations and Communication degree alumni, to present to all students and the judging panel, with advice regarding crisis management and what steps should be followed to lessen the extent of a crisis.
After the introductions, students were fully immersed in dealing with the crisis in hand – a fictional outbreak of Coronavirus on campus. Students from a range of courses and year groups, including Public Relations and Communication, Marketing with Advertising and Marketing, joined together into 5 separate teams to tackle the issue at hand. Each team had to work to tight deadlines in order to keep the crisis under control- with students having to create news releases, crisis management plans, two video statements, and manage comments and concerns on social media from the “public” and “press”. This gave each team a real insight into how an issue can develop into a crisis and what actions organisations can take to lessen the impact of a crisis.
After producing content and managing the constantly escalating crisis, the teams reconvened to present their reflections on the day - how they had felt the day went, how they managed the crisis and what they would do differently in a similar situation. After participating in the crisis simulation myself, it really helped to put everything I had learned together, apply it to a real situation and also learn how others dealt with the same situation. It was also hugely beneficial to learn from those studying different degrees and manage the crisis with a range of perspectives in mind.
At the end of each team’s presentation, two winning groups of the day were announced unanimously by the panel of professional PR judges, including Solent University lecturers, Solent PR alumni Martyna Stepien and Roger Harris and Kristine Pole from Canterbury Christ Church University. Group 2 were announced winners of the best reflections. A representative from this group, third year Public Relations and Communication student Sadie commented “Crisis simulation is always a really interesting event; it really highlights what is important to different departments in a crisis situation. It’s key to balance the needs of everyone and having an interdisciplinary group gives you the chance to see that in action.”
Group 1 were announced winners of best content for the day. Agata, a second year Marketing with Advertising student, from this group commented “I really enjoyed the crisis simulation as it was something I had never done before, especially coming from a marketing course where we don’t really experience much in terms of communication with consumers and dealing with this under pressure. However by working with an amazing group which included PR students, it was really interesting to learn something new and to be crowned the winners at the end of day was really rewarding for the whole group as I could see how hard they worked. It felt really great to be part of that with having barely any experience of dealing with PR. I found the day very insightful into what it would be like working in a communications team in a real-life crisis and would definitely do it again next year.”
Thanks to all the staff, students and guests who came along to experience the annual Crisis Simulation event – see you next year! We look forward to bringing you more news about our PR students for the remainder of this semester!