Strategic Communications and Crisis Management at an Ivy League College



Higher Education


Distinguished Ivy League liberal arts college recognized for its dedication to nurturing an inclusive and diverse environment faced substantial societal shifts and heightened socio-political turbulence against the backdrop of profound transformation, necessitating specialized strategic communication and crisis management counsel tailored to the nuances of higher education.

The Challenge

Like many other institutions, this College found itself an inflection point after lacking a robust crisis communications plan, and was caught unprepared amidst the intensifying discourse surrounding pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protests. The institution faced encampments, congressional hearings, and targeted scrutiny of faculty, administration, and the Board of Trustees. Urgently requiring a comprehensive reputation management and strategic communications strategy, the institution embarked on a journey that demanded agility, creativity, and a profound understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles, governance dynamics, and the evolving needs of its higher education stakeholders.

The Approach

Our consultancy was engaged to provide interim leadership and strategic counsel in communications. We undertook a comprehensive assessment through individual sessions with key stakeholders—parents, students, faculty, staff, alumni, local community, city/government officials, and the board of trustees. Our initiatives included:

  • Crisis Response Plans: Development of detailed crisis management strategies tailored to various scenarios.
  • Stakeholder Communication: Creation of targeted talking points, drafting of detailed correspondence, and preparation of speeches for the new president to address diverse groups effectively.
  • Reputational Risk Management: Conducted in-depth research and risk assessments, including social media listening and comparative analysis with other institutions.
  • Media Strategy: Managed responses to top-tier media inquiries and proactive dissemination of the college’s narrative through strategic media placements.
  • Event and Policy Communication: Framed and communicated policy changes across the college, and organized positive outreach events like galas to bolster the institution’s image.

PR & Communications Case Studies

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