This CHE webinar is a Must-Listen.
I’m webinar-ed out and I’m sure you are, too. I tend to drop-out after roughly five minutes after dropping in.
But not this one.
Earlier this week, The Chronicle of Education’s “Communicating During a Pandemic” set a high bar with a virtual forum moderated by CHE’s senior editor, Alex Kafka. He hosted a five-star panel of college presidents and faculty in a far-reaching discussion of the challenges of higher ed crisis communications in the pandemic era. It was a refreshing and very real opportunity to hear these college presidents talk candidly about the trials, tribulations, and opportunities they faced during this most difficult year…
I couldn’t take notes fast enough.
Here are some of my key take-aways:
- Like all of their peers, they were completely unprepared for the pandemic’s onslaught. As COVID surged, no amount of existing emergency or communications planning sufficed.
- Each struggled with how to minimize potential panic.
- There was agreement that smaller colleges did the best job of communicating with their communities. They noted the ability to engage on a personal level — i.e., sending handwritten notes, walking around campus, asking people how they were doing; sending music, poems, and targeted video messages.
- Several cited the benefits of establishing a dedicated mailbox with which to solicit and assess pain points.
- Noted periods of update fatigue, and found that short, to-the-point statements were more effective than lengthy updates.
- Made the ubiquitous FAQ a go-to resource.
- Reinforced their institution’s reputation and value: “We’ve weathered storms before and together we will again…”
- Held themselves ultimately accountable. Words were not enough. All were committed to translating thought into measurable actions.
- Grappled with how to balance the dual needs of transparency and reassurance.
- Were reminded that communications could no longer be an afterthought; to be effective it has to be a senior leadership function with a permanent seat at the cabinet table.
And there is much more to learn from these battle-tested leaders.
This Chronicle of Higher Ed webinar is well worth your time.