WCU offering April 7 workshop on crisis communication in Asheville

A Western Carolina University professor and consultant will lead a one-day workshop focusing on “Crisis Communication Planning and Response: How to Communicate Before, During and After a Crisis” on Friday, April 7, at WCU’s instructional site at Biltmore Park Town Square in Asheville.

Betty Farmer, professor of communication and public relations and owner of Farmer Communications, developed the workshop in response to research that reveals many organizations are not adequately prepared to respond quickly and effectively when a crisis hits.

“Crises are everywhere,” Farmer said. “The question is not if, but when, a crisis is going to happen. Moreover, social media have dramatically changed the crisis communication landscape. Whereas organizations used to have a few hours to respond, the expectation now is for an immediate response. If the organization does not have a crisis communication plan already in place, responding quickly and effectively is incredibly challenging.”

Betty Farmer

Not only do organizations need to develop the plans, they also need to keep them updated, she said. “One of the unsettling findings in my research is that many organizations have crisis communication plans, but they do not keep them up-to-date. This may mean that those organizations have a false sense of security. If organizations have not integrated social media strategy into their crisis plan, they are not ready,” Farmer said.

Although the April 7 workshop is part of WCU’s new Event Planning Certificate Program, individuals from all types of organizations are invited to participate because all experience crises. “How organizations and individuals communicate before, during and after a crisis can have a profound impact on reputation and brand, community relations, customer loyalty and the bottom line,” Farmer said.

The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will cover principles of effective crisis communication, expectations for leaders, guidelines for managing social media and elements of a basic crisis communication plan. Case study examples will be used throughout to illuminate key principles.

Farmer holds a doctorate in communication with an emphasis in public relations and organizational communication and a master’s degree in journalism, both from the University of Tennessee. She has provided communication training for a wide variety of individuals hailing from government, education, business and nonprofit sectors.

The workshop fee is $149. For more information or to register, call WCU’s Office of Professional Growth and Enrichment 828-227-7397 or visit pdp.wcu.edu.