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Trending Communication on the Campus in Crisis: Social Media Best Practices in Higher Education Crisis Communications Open Access

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Social media have increasingly become primary communication tools for colleges and universities to broadcast school events, recruit prospective students, and connect with alumni and donors. Through social media these schools have the opportunity to control messaging to all constituencies. Beyond the aforementioned uses, educational institutions can use online interactive platforms to disseminate information in times of campus conflict, unwanted scandal, or natural disaster. In the wake of such crises, schools articulate thoughtful responses, crisis protocols, and plans for next steps most quickly and effectively through social media platforms.In a February 2012 study, Chris Syme of CKSyme.org partnered with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) to investigate the presence of social media as tools in the face of higher education crises. The survey found forty-one percent of the study's respondents with crisis communications plans do not include any social media response during crisis time. For those schools that do engage with constituencies online during crises, the question is how social media platforms are best utilized during critical scenarios that have the potential to compromise reputation and brand image. This thesis explores that question and proposes best practices for social media use in higher education crisis communications.

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