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Paper Details: Managing Crisis: Best Practices Of Public Information Officers In Higher Education Institutions

Volume 3 - Issue 8, August 2019 Edition
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Author(s)
Buellah May P. Convento
Keywords
Best Practices, Crisis, Crisis Management, Higher Education Institutions, Public Information Officers
Abstract
This research paper aims to find out the most challenging crisis encountered by certain Higher Education Institutions and how this affects the officials, internal stakeholders, and external stakeholders. Moreover, it also focuses in analyzing the response of the respective Public Information Offices in terms of time pressure, response constraints, control issues, and threat level concerns. To achieve the said aims, this study utilized the qualitative analysis to get the perspectives of people who have a partaking role and have enough experience in the said field. With this, the researcher also performed an in-depth interview with concerned individuals in each chosen Higher Education Institutions who are Dr. Anna Ruby P. Gapasin – Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Dr. Nicolo B. Velasco – Bulacan State University, Mr. Johannes Badillo – De La Salle University, Dr. Vanessa Mae Castillo – Batangas State University, and Ms. Alyssa Mae Azanza – Colegio de San Juan de Letran – Calamba. After a keen study, it showed that the crisis faced by the mentioned HEIs were vandalism/student protests, off-campus tragedy, black propaganda, health crisis, and sex scandal and that these crises directly affected both internal and external stakeholders as well as their reputation. The studied HEIs responded differently as each crisis has unique priorities and factors to consider such as control issues, threat level concerns, time pressure, and response option constraints. DLSU, PUP, BulSU acted immediately while Letran and BSU took a day or a week to respond to the issue showing how well they responded to the time pressure. The HEIs faced response constraints such as budget for PUP and prioritizing the victims’ family and the survivors for the BulSU. On the other hand, DLSU had all the budget they need, BSU exerted their best efforts to solve the issue, and Letran refused to respond in the first place which caused all of them no constraint. In controlling the issues, PUP and BulSU had a difficult time with how the media angled their news, and that BulSU had no existing PIO. Moreover, BSU faced the challenge that they were just appointed when they faced the problem and Letran who had a difficult time with the spreading of the rumors and the video online, unlike DLSU who experienced no problems because of their openness to inquiries. Overall, the HEIs who participated in the study confessed that the crisis they experienced had a significant effect on their reputation, rating it 8 out of 10 without denying the fact that their university has learned something from the experience. The chosen HEIs utilized stonewalling which is not always the answer to every crisis for it might tamper the credibility of institutions, assigning the president as the spokesperson which is good for consistency of statement but may also be a disadvantage for the HEIs, grassroots approach, communication campaign, prioritizing during fatal accidents to root out the problem fast, using media connections which is very useful to reach a wider reach of audience, following protocol, and providing a counter propaganda. After addressing all the factors, the study showed that the best practices of PIOs being proactive with their campaign and connecting well with their audience, thinking fast and forming a de facto PIO to address the crisis, utilizing the grassroots approach by prioritizing the needs of the affected stakeholders, doing a comprehensive analysis of the issue, and stonewalling to prolong the progress of the rumor.
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