Crisis Communications Guidelines

Whether there is severe weather on the horizon or an unforeseen crisis on campus, we put our UB community first.

Adhering to these social media crisis communication guidelines will ensure that we are communicating as quickly and efficiently as possible on our social media channels to give students, parents, faculty and staff the accurate information they need, when it matters most.

University Communications During a Crisis

In accordance to UB’s Division of University Communications Crisis Communications Manual, the following principles will be adhered to in all university official communications:

  1. The safety and needs of employees, students and families, and other directly affected stakeholders, are the university’s top priority.
  2. Communications will be timely, honest, relevant, proactive and forthright.
  3. The university will speak with one clear voice and will not speculate.
  4. The university will take ownership for problems and demonstrate commitment to fixing and preventing them.
  5. The university will demonstrate responsible, compassionate leadership through its words and actions.
Know How to Act

Report social media posts immediately when:

  • Risk is high with potential to damage the university’s reputation
  • The issue is outside of your area of expertise 
  • The tone/language becomes angry or threatening
  • You aren’t sure how to proceed

For more information, see our guide.

Crisis Communications Protocols on Social Media

During large, medium or small-scale crises, University Communications (UC) follows specific procedures to alert faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders, as outlined below:

All official crisis communication on social media will initially come from the UB Alert Twitter account. This alert will be shared on UB’s institutional Facebook and Twitter account, as appropriate. Depending on the message, communication may also be sent out on UB’s official Instagram or Snapchat.

How should all other university social media channels operate during an emergency?

  • Follow University Communications’ lead. If the institutional channels are not posting about a crisis, neither should your account. Once something has been posted to UB’s institutional channels, you can share our message and add points that relate specifically to your audience.
  • Only post emergency information that relates specifically to your school/unit/department (event cancellations, service disruptions etc.)
  • Only respond to unit-specific queries on your channel (hours of operations, etc.
    • Refrain from responding to general queries except to refer them to the emergency website using the following language:
      • “We will continue to update our emergency site with the most up-to-date information. Head to emergency.buffalo.edu.”
    • Escalate any other queries to University Communications directly, using the form found here.
  • Always use the #UBuffalo hashtag so that students, parents, faculty and staff can easily find the information.

We also recommend that UB social media accounts take the following steps in the event of an emergency:

  • Do not be tone deaf. Understand that we are not in standard business mode and consider pausing all normal/scheduled social activity until the crisis has ended
  • Continue to monitor your channels and immediately escalate any posts that need attention to University Communications directly, using the form found here.

In certain crises, University Communications may also email special instructions to UB community managers. Be on the lookout and ready to assist when needed.

Any questions about UB’s crisis communication social plan can be sent to Rebecca Bernstein.