Above and Beyond: School Crisis Communication


Wednesday, March 16, 2016 Dr. Blair Thompson spoke at Gary Ransdell Hall on “Exploring Communication, Pedagogical Relationships, and Crisis at the P-12 Level.” This lecture was a part of the ‘Above and Beyond’ speaker series, hosted by the Communication Department here at Western Kentucky University.

Dr. Thompson presented his on-going research on analyzing school crisis communication, studying student and parental academic support, and examining how computer-mediated communication is transforming various pedagogical relationships (i.e. student-teacher, parent-teacher, and parent-child).

During his lecture, Dr. Thompson focused his attention on the main areas of struggle for schools, before and after a crisis, such as a school shooting or bomb threat. According to Dr. Thompson, “Most schools are not prepared to talk to national reporters and struggle to manage the information that is being released to reporters.” Another issue that schools must deal with after crisis is the inaccurate information being reported by the media. “This can be very confusing and harmful to schools when trying to control a story and release only what is necessary in these highly tense scenarios.”

Dr. Blair Thompson

Social media can contribute to unwanted publicity regarding crisis management. Dr. Thompson described a scenario where a student sent out a picture of a young boy’s body before his parents were even aware of the situation. With the advances today in social media, it is likely that the public will receive information in a very raw form. Crisis management is put in place for schools so that students and faculty can be protected, information controlled, and situations such as school shootings can be effectively handled.

Dr. Thompson is passionate about this field of study and provided important research for schools in the journal, Computers and Human Behavior. His most recent publication on school crisis communication and social media which he published with colleagues from WKU and Clemson University is accessible at the following link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S074756321500480X



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