Avoiding a Media Relations Crisis: Lessons Learned from Laramie County
Community College

illustration of a news article

After some initial controversy over FERPA and student privacy, a set of documents from Laramie County Community College were made public, prompting a media flurry and providing a cautionary case of how one college may have mishandled a response to the suicidal behaviors of a student while leading a 2008 class trip to Costa Rica. The incident raises several questions for institutions of higher education, including:

  • What training to provide for faculty and other trip leaders who are taking students abroad, so that trip leaders know how to respond in the event of an emergency and who to contact
  • How to manage communications with key campus audiences and with the media after the incident, so as to prevent or manage the type of media controversy seen in this case

We asked leading crisis communications expert Cindy Lawson (with the University of North Carolina Wilmington) to address that second question, and to identify what lessons other institutions can learn from these recent events.


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