Navigating Crisis: Best Practices in Public Relations for Boarding Schools

Navigating Crisis: Best Practices in Public Relations for Boarding Schools
Discover effective strategies for handling crises in boarding schools and maintaining a positive reputation. This article explores best practices in public relations, emphasizing transparent communication with the community, parents, and the media. Learn from real-life examples of successful crisis responses and the pitfalls of stonewalling. Gain insights into community engagement, parent communication, media management, and the importance of proactive measures. Elevate your school's crisis management approach and foster trust during challenging times. Read now to ensure your boarding school is well-prepared to navigate any crisis with resilience and integrity.

Handling a crisis at a boarding school requires effective communication and strategic public relations to safeguard the institution's reputation and maintain trust within the community. This article will explore best practices for engaging with the community, parents, and the media during a crisis. Additionally, we will examine examples of successful and unsatisfactory crisis responses and emphasize the perils of stonewalling.

Engaging with the Community

During a crisis, it is crucial to establish open and transparent lines of communication with the community. You can achieve this through proactive measures such as holding town hall meetings, organizing information sessions, and leveraging digital platforms. These efforts demonstrate the school's commitment to addressing concerns and ensuring the well-being of students. In addition, timely updates, clear information, and empathetic messaging are essential to foster trust and maintain a positive image.

Example of a Positive Response

Consider the example of a boarding school that faced allegations of bullying within its student body. The school immediately initiated a comprehensive anti-bullying campaign involving the students, faculty, and parents. They organized awareness programs and workshops and implemented a reporting system to address concerns promptly. By openly acknowledging the issue and taking swift action, the school demonstrated its commitment to student welfare and rebuilt community trust.

This video explains crisis management.

Interacting with Parents

Parents play a vital role in a boarding school community, and effective communication during a crisis is crucial. Inform parents promptly of any incidents or developments affecting their children's safety and well-being. Regular updates via email, phone calls, or in-person meetings help allay concerns and ensure parents feel heard and valued.

Example of an Effective Response

In response to a viral outbreak at a boarding school, the administration implemented robust health and safety protocols and communicated them clearly to parents. Daily updates were shared via a dedicated website and regular emails, providing information on the measures being taken, the well-being of affected students, and progress made toward containment. The school also established a helpline for parents to address individual concerns promptly. This proactive and transparent approach reassured parents and demonstrated the school's commitment to their children's health.

Managing the Media

Media attention can be intense in a crisis, and schools must be prepared to engage with journalists professionally. Establishing a designated spokesperson and developing key messages in advance can ensure consistent and controlled communication. In addition, it is essential to be transparent, providing accurate information while adhering to legal and privacy requirements.

Managing the media during a crisis can be daunting for any organization. That's why hiring public relations professionals who can help navigate the complex landscape of media relations is essential. These experts have the skills and experience to handle tough questions and communicate effectively with the media. They can also help manage the message and ensure the organization's reputation remains intact. One way to ensure you always have access to these valuable resources is to keep a PR professional on retainer. This allows you to quickly and efficiently respond to any crisis without scrambling to find someone who can help. With a PR professional on retainer, you can rest assured that your organization is always prepared to handle any media-related challenges that come your way.

This TEDx Talk discusses successful crisis management.

Example of an Unsatisfactory Response

In a recent case, a boarding school faced allegations of financial impropriety involving senior staff members. The school leadership responded by refusing to comment or provide any information to the media, adopting a stonewalling approach. Unfortunately, this approach created a vacuum of information, leading to speculation and sensationalism in the press. As a result, the school's reputation suffered significantly, as the public perceived their silence as an admission of guilt.

The Perils of Stonewalling

Stonewalling, or refusing to engage with the media and public during a crisis, can have disastrous consequences for a school's reputation. It fuels speculation, breeds mistrust, and allows misinformation to spread unchecked. Schools risk losing credibility and damaging their relationships with the community and parents by withholding information. Therefore, open and transparent communication is paramount, even when faced with difficult circumstances.

When a crisis occurs, it can be tempting for an organization to stonewall or refuse to comment. However, this approach can have serious legal and financial consequences. For example, if a school stonewalls in response to a crisis, it may be seen as an admission of guilt or liability. This can make it more difficult for the school to defend itself in a legal proceeding and may result in higher damages being awarded to any plaintiffs. Additionally, stonewalling can cause problems with the school's liability insurance provider. Insurance policies often require organizations to cooperate fully in the event of a crisis, and failure to do so may result in the insurer denying coverage or refusing to renew the policy. Therefore, it is important for schools to be transparent and proactive in their response to crises and to work closely with their legal and PR professionals to manage the situation effectively.


Handling a crisis at a boarding school requires a well-executed public relations strategy that prioritizes open communication, transparency, and empathy. Engaging with the community, parents, and the media through timely updates, proactive measures, and a designated spokesperson ensures a unified and accurate message. Avoiding stonewalling and embracing open dialogue will help safeguard the school's reputation, maintain trust, and foster a resilient community.

When a crisis arises, it is crucial for the head of the school and the board of trustees to work together and present a united front. Having one voice and one response is essential in effectively managing the situation and avoiding confusion or conflicting messages. By working together, the head of the school and the board can ensure that all communications are consistent and accurate and that the organization is presenting a cohesive response to the crisis. This can mitigate any potential legal or financial consequences and maintain the trust and confidence of stakeholders. Additionally, a united front demonstrates that the organization is taking the crisis seriously and is committed to resolving the situation responsibly and effectively. Therefore, it is vital for the head of school and the board of trustees to collaborate closely and communicate effectively in the event of a crisis.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boardingschoolreview

#CrisisManagement #BoardingSchoolPR #TransparentCommunication #boardingschools #boardingschoolreview

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