Will County Humane Society Crisis Communication Plan

I.

Purpose
The purpose of this plan is to outline media relations and communications procedures during a crisis. It is designed to serve as an addition to the existing WCHS Emergency management Incident Command System (WILL COUNTY HUMANE SOCIETY SAFETY POLICIS AND PROCEDURES MANUAL, Policy No. 45).

II.

Scope
This policy is applicable to the WCHS Shorewood, IL location. Procedures may vary based upon the President or appropriate Executive Employee.

III.

What is a crisis?
   A dog attacking a customer or employee A WCHS employee abusing one of the organizations animals. An employee did not properly go through the steps of adoption, and an animal that was brought in from the streets was immediately adopted when that animal already had owners. A WCHS employee was caught stealing money from the organization. The WCHS building caught on fire.

 

IV.

Release of Information
A. General Guidelines It is crucial that the WCHS deliver a fast, accurate, and complete response in a crisis, within constraints imposed by concern for individual privacy and legal responsibility. The public relations department will coordinate the release of any information surrounding a crisis situation. Only the President or his designee will be authorized to speak for the WCHS in an emergency situation. Depending on the nature of the incident, the President or designee may convene a first response team, consisting of the President, the Shorewood Police Chief, or their designees. Critical, on-call personnel or crisis team member will be identified before a crisis occurs. Emergency contact information will be updated and distributed every 4 months.

Will County Humane Society Crisis Communications Plan April 23, 2010 Page 1

B. Order of Notification/Release
Whenever possible, appropriate details and actions taken by the WCHS during an emergency should be provided to employees and board members first. Information should also be provided to those groups that may receive calls from the public. Constituents who should be contacted include: 1. employees 2. board members 3. volunteers 4. Media (Shorewood Sentential)

C. Protection of Privacy and Concerns for WCHS Liability
In all instances, WCHS must strive to balance an employee’s right to privacy with the need to be cooperative with the media. The release of information regarding an employee is governed by the Employee Rights and Privacy Act (ERPA). When inquires are directed to the WCHS concerning a criminal charge or a pending criminal investigation, caution will be exercised in releasing information that could interfere with an investigation or a subsequent legal proceeding. Legal counsel will be contacted immediately to provide input onto the response. In the event of injury or death, the WCHS will not release the names involved until notification of family has first been achieved. The names may then be released provided authorization is on file to release directory information according to ERPA guidelines.

D. What should/should not be released
Information that is speculative should not be released. Unless proven and verified, the WCHS will not release information on or speculate about the following: 1. Number of deaths/injuries 2. What was damaged, if anything 3. Estimates concerning the length of time it will take to put a damaged facility back online. 4. Speculation on cause and blame placed on any individual, agency or piece of equipment. 5. Estimates of original costs 6. WCHS closing
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7. Possible effect on the community

Once proven and verified, the WCHS will release information about the following: 1. background information 2. update of events as they unfold 3. actual case of crisis 4. course of action 5. extent of physical damages

V.

Crisis Communication Procedures

1. All facts will be gathered, and the core members of the WCHS crisis team will immediately convene and decide the first course of action. A statement for release to the media, based on the information available, will be the first priority. 2. Media communications will be managed from the Public Relations Department. 3. A list of talking points to summarize the situation and cover possible media inquires will be complied, staff and approved by the President. The message will be conveyed to internal audiences via e-mail, and via the website. External audiences will be notified through press releases, press conferences (if needed). 4. Based on the nature of the incident, the public relations director may set up a media communications center or media emergency center as necessary at the Shorewood Community Center. All media will be directed to assemble at the center to work and receive information. A designated spokesperson will issue periodic statements to the media. 5. The public relations director or coordinator will conduct all communications with the media and set up press conferences as required. Whenever possible, the press will be fully informed of all particulars as soon as they become known, provided there is nothing to preclude release. The designated WCHS spokesperson will make all official announcements to the media. The Public Relations Department will coordinate with appropriate employees for input and response.

Will County Humane Society Crisis Communications Plan April 23, 2010 Page 3

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