Crisis Communication Day to be held April 4 at WCU

The Public Relations Student Society of America chapter at Western Carolina University will hold its annual Crisis Communication Day from 10 a.m. until 3:15 p.m. Friday, April 4, in the Ramsey Regional Activity Center, with registration and hospitality beginning at 9 a.m.

lawson_cindy_uncw_web08Crisis Communication Day will feature three speakers. Cindy Lawson (at right), assistant to the chancellor for marketing and communications at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, will be the keynote speaker. Kathleen Kinser, director of marketing for Success Oriented Achievement Realized (SOAR), and Michael Caudill, a member of communication department faculty at Western, also will be speaking on current crisis issues.

Lawson was director of university relations at Texas A&M University when 12 students were killed and 27 injured in a bonfire collapse in 1999. Numerous national media outlets applauded her handling of the situation. Prior to joining UNC-Wilmington, Lawson served as vice president for communications and strategy development for the University of North Carolina system.

In her keynote address, Lawson will discuss the Texas A&M bonfire tragedy, along with the unique challenges that the Virginia Tech public relations staff faced last April when 32 people were killed in a school shooting incident. Lawson will be presenting “Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire” at 12:45 p.m.

Prior to her marketing position at SOAR, a non-profit adventure-based outdoor program for youth with learning disabilities and/or ADHD, Kinser handled crisis communication for the Knoxville Zoo. She will present “What a Zoo! Crisis Communication in a Zoological Park” at 10 a.m.

Caudill, a managing partner in InterCultural Advantage, a provider of cultural competency training and consulting, will present “More Crises, More Voices: Crisis Communication in a Diverse Culture” at 2 p.m.

A trio-salad lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. The salad includes mixed greens topped with shrimp, beef and chicken. A portabella mushroom option is available for vegetarians. Rolls, dessert, tea and coffee also will be served.

Crisis Communication Day is open to all students, faculty and professionals. The event will cost $10 for Western Carolina University students, $15 for visiting students, and $35 for faculty and professionals.

For more information about Crisis Communication Day, contact Lorelle Gruenhagen, president of WCU PRSSA, at or Tyler Waltrip, director of Catamount Communications, at (828) 227-2229.