November 9, 2015
Crisis communications online – NCAA players’ benefits scandal
READ: Sports fans as crisis communicators on social media websites
You work in the strategic planning and communications office at the University of Miami. You are responsible for monitoring news, information and comment about the university online. You come across the article on Yahoo! Sports regarding ‘impermissible benefits to players’.
Answer the following questions in your discussion post:
Once this article is identified and deemed credible, it’s important to develop an immediate answer and response plan, designed for fans, media and boosters. The plan should be broken down into three main implementations; immediate, near-term, long-term.
Immediate (within 24-48 hours)
Working with senior leadership, develop a response that the University of Miami (UM) takes any and all allegations incredibly seriously and will work with the appropriate officials in all necessary capacities complying with the rules and regulations of the NCAA. This should be communicated as a direct post through active social media channels utilized by UM.
Additionally, an official release on behalf of the athletic director and the senior leadership of the university should be posted to the school’s primary website in the media section, and within the athletic department’s section of the site. This statement should have the same tone and tenor as the shorter statement distributed via social channels.
A simple email, should be sent out to all contacts of the university, especially alumni and boosters of the athletic program, assuring them of full cooperation, compliance, and appropriate action as needed. This should appear to come on UM letterhead and be more of a statement letter than a promotional message. It can, time permitting, be tailored to the audience receiving the messages.
A set of replies should be drafted and distributed to all content authors and/or social media managers that can be easily used to respond to comments, questions or concerns on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Additionally, a comprehensive revisit of the filtering mechanisms for each network’s should be completed to ensure legitimate questions/comments are inadvertently being filter out.
Near Term (within 7-30 days)
Rally the team to discuss all the possible scenarios for the allegation. This should include what happens if the situation is false and true, and what the University’s actions, responses and citing any student codes of conduct, NCAA rules or regulations, or any other governing bodies potential impact. Develop action plans for each outcome/scenario which should include the various tools and channels to which statements can be prepared.
Additionally, the school should contact general counsel to provide consultancy on any or all posts to ensure that official statements do not create more of a challenge or burden to the University than the situation itself.
Working with the alumni foundation and the boosters, these support groups should be kept especially up-to-speed on the progress, both from the national/university voice, as well as from local alumni chapters or clubs. This can include messaging and advertising placed onto club websites, emails, etc.
Begin to monitor sentiment on social channels to capture trends and comments to determine if any changes in message points should be updated or modified for consumer postings.
Long Term (continuing through investigation)
Develop press releases and comments/posts based on the movement of the case, positive or negative.
Activate the University’s blog to provide official comments in a non-media tone that can be picked-up and shared through social channels, alumni clubs, email communications, etc. Add any necessary press releases to the appropriate media centers on the UM website and athletics site.
Continue to monitor sentiment and performance of social channels to adjust as needing. Look at effectiveness of each channel and optimize effectiveness, as needed, to penetrate core messaging out to key target audiences.
Crisis Response, MMC6213, Strategic Communications,