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4 Key Principles For Effective Crisis Communications

Create Personalized Mobile-First Experiences for Your Campus - Modolabs

The recent and expanding outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has created a global health issue – putting student and employee safety at the forefront for campuses and workplaces across the country and around the world. Given the global nature of today’s academic and enterprise communities with international travel happening with frequency, having a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan and communications strategy that protects and informs regional and global audiences is key. Here are some best practices and procedures that can minimize risk and keep your community informed and safe during times of uncertainty.

Be Proactive

In an emergency situation, timely, relevant, and informational communications are not just convenient, they are a necessity. People need regular updates on conditions, directions on where to evacuate to, and instructions on how to navigate situations that may feel very unfamiliar and threatening. Many organizations are recognizing that they have a powerful communication tool at their disposal—their campus or workplace mobile app—that has the ability to send thousands of notifications to devices that people are sure to have in pocket, even in emergency scenarios.

Deploying a mobile campus or workplace app, powered by Modo Campus® or Modo Workplace®, to keep students and employees informed, is a primary motivation for many institutions. Creating a mobile strategy in advance of an emergency situation is a powerful example of how an app can help ensure the safety of your extended community.

Centralize information sources

Modo Communicate enables you to quickly send rich push notifications to your entire user population, specific locations, and individual recipients, ensuring each message reaches the right recipients. These notifications can be created in Modo App Center, as well as programmatically via the Communicate API, RSS feeds, and with partner integrations including Rave Mobile and LiveSafe. Notification channels can also be easily delegated to an individual or group tasked with distributing timely updates. During extreme weather or pandemic situations, for example, leveraging existing processes for timely communication to app users allows you to quickly amplify critical information resources, where minutes can make a difference.

Having an emergency preparedness response plan that has pre-configured emergency information sources organized by situation allows you to pull information from a single platform into an RSS feed for distribution across multiple channels, including the app. This ensures that regardless of how your users choose to engage with the organization, they’re sure to receive the right information. Additionally, Modo Publisher can be used to rapidly build dynamic screens in your Modo app to serve as a trusted hub of information about ongoing updates. Publisher can also display live video feeds, ingest and parse web content, and easily link to other app content including maps and news – all without any need for technical expertise or code. These multiple information sources are combined to give users a full picture of the scale of the situation, with push notifications and in-app updates enabling all of the details users need in order to react responsibly.

Communicate responsibly and effectively

During the course of a crisis situation – like coronavirus or a hurricane – creating a series of push notifications that can be deployed using Modo Communicate® over the course of the event helps to provide app users a full update on campus closures, evacuation procedures, and other pertinent information. On average, push notifications see a 7X faster open rate than email.

In addition to providing timely communications, you must also consider what communication and information students and employees will find most useful. Communicating evacuation instructions for people to leave a specific building or where emergency services can be found can have a very calming effect during a time of crisis. Offering detailed updates and instructions, not just a call to evacuate, helps people deal with events as they come and follows best practices of emergency communication. Ensure that students find notifications informative and instructive by involving the people whose job it is to react to and communicate in situations of emergency. Lastly, it is acceptable and even encouraged to share as broadly as possible in situations such as these, as people associated with the campus or company (such as parents and colleagues) appreciate knowing what is happening, even when they are not directly impacted by the situation.

It Takes a Village

Both the municipal and campus emergency safety staff, along with the university police, should have access to the app. A small number of app stakeholders should be approved to make website and app updates, controlling access while allowing the people who best understand the gravity of the situation to directly create communications. Additionally, this allows staff to easily pivot with changing conditions and get information out when it’s most relevant to users.

By involving many stakeholders in emergency response efforts, institutions ensure the security of the community, as well as their ability to bounce back after the active situation has passed. Pulling in department leaders from IT, Marketing & Communications, Facilities, and Safety to develop a thorough, mobile-optimized emergency response ensures the best possible outcome. The ability to involve and delegate responsibilities across multiple university departments is supported by the fact that administering a Modo app doesn’t require a technical skillset.

Providing detailed instructions and expert resources helps everyone prepare and respond, giving them the tools to secure their own safety and bring things back to normal as quickly as possible.


As we’re learning, communicating during emergencies will only become more important as new types of crisis situations arise. If your institution already has a mobile app, consider how you can use existing processes or develop new ones that will allow you to communicate effectively and in a timely manner during emergencies. If you don’t yet have a campus or workplace app, take the steps to build and deploy one now, so that you are prepared to react in emergency situations.

Today, students spend over 90% of their time communicating on their phones and the vast majority of Americans own a smartphone—mobile is the best way to reach people of all ages every day, and especially in times of crisis.

Let us show you how Modo Campus and Modo Workplace can help to ensure the safety and security of your campus community through mobile communication.

Watch the on-demand Critical Event Communications webinar to learn more!

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