Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dealing with Rumors Spawned by Social Media

Social media is a powerful communication tool but one of its detriment is the ability to spawn rumors. Rumors spread quickly via texts, Twitter or Facebook and can quickly overwhelm a school's ability to respond. Often they take on a life of their own and, accurate or not, require some sort of response. Many school leaders are uncertain about how to respond or how to use communication tools to put the rumors to rest. The National School Public Relations Association asked that question to a group of principals and found some interesting approaches.

  • It is important to get timely and accurate information to key audiences quickly. Always make a cognitive, rather than emotional, response to rumors. Just the facts.
  • Assure students, families and communities that you are aware of the rumor, are investigating, and will deal with it so that you maintain a safe school environment.
  • Ask for specific details about any rumors that people may have heard. This will help with your assessment and response.
  • Communicate quickly when a situation happens and notify parents and community rapidly. Don't let the message, and associated rumors, get spread by neighbors of the school, by students or others.
  • Create a "Fact Check" site on your school's website and let people know that is where they can either go for information or to post a rumor and get a response.
  • Recognize the importance of redundant dissemination of information. Everyone doesn't get their information from the same source and today social media is one of the primary sources of information for many people.

I'd enjoy hearing from you about how you deal with rumors and how you respond to the ideas from the National School Public Relations Association.

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