Michigan State University could have communicated in ways that fostered healing
Updated: Mon, Jan 21, 2018 11:21 am ET
Communication matters; maybe never more than during a crisis. When organizations fail to communicate adequately, consistently, and effectively, a vacuum is created. Vacuums are always filled, and unfortunately they are typically filled with speculative, inaccurate, and/or negative perspectives. Organizations in crisis need to communicate often enough to ensure that information vacuums never form (and if they do, they are eliminated ASAP).
MSU Communication Improvement Suggestions
Define a communication cadence; communicate with constituents a lot; even more than you think is necessary, and do it regularly (at least once/week). Even a "we have not made progress since our last update" message is valued by those who are anxious or interested. (We're attempting to help out by publishing a list of fact-based questions and answers.)
Work with your constituents (instead of against them). Survivors, #ReclaimMSU, ASMSU, and others are begging to help you. Harness their energy to amplify your results.
Listen. Listen until nobody is left to be heard. Schedule weekly listening sessions. (Maybe Friday nights from 5pm to midnight or Sundays from noon to 10:00 pm. Consider asking an independent, volunteer org to host and document the input.)
Update yourTalking Points. Words matter. (Probably now more than ever.)
Share your challenges and ask for help. Funds limited? Maybe donors will come forward. Strapped for resources? Maybe some will donate their time. Need ideas? People are often creative and ideas come from everywhere. Harness the energy to accelerate healing.
The people who are angry are probably your most valuable assests because they care so much. So many want to heal. Start right now by working with others to expose the truth, repair the harm, restore the institution, and look to the future.