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Crisis communication will be focus of workshop at Biltmore Park

To help organizations respond effectively in today’s digital media environment, a Western Carolina University professor and consultant will offer a one-day workshop, “Crisis Communication Planning and Response: How to Communicate Before, During and After a Crisis,” at the university’s Biltmore Park site Friday, June 7.

Betty Farmer, professor of communication and public relations, and owner of Farmer Communications, developed the workshop in response to research that reveals many organizations are not adequately prepared to respond quickly and effectively when a crisis hits.

Betty Farmer

"Crises are everywhere. The question is not if, but when, a crisis is going to happen. Moreover, social media has dramatically changed the crisis communication landscape. Whereas organizations used to have a few hours to respond, the expectation now is for an immediate response,” said Farmer. “If the organization does not have a crisis communication plan already in place, responding quickly and effectively is incredibly challenging.”

Not only do organizations need to develop the plans, they also need to keep them updated, she said. "One of the unsettling findings in my research is that many organizations have crisis communication plans, but they do not keep them up-to-date. This may mean that those organizations have a false sense of security. If organizations have not integrated social media strategy into their crisis plan, they are not ready," Farmer said.

The daylong workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will cover principles of effective crisis communication, expectations for leaders, guidelines for managing social media and elements of a basic crisis communication plan. Case study examples will be used throughout to illuminate key principles.

To facilitate collaboration and productivity, multiple members of each organization’s crisis team are encouraged to attend. Attendees are also encouraged to bring laptop computers (at least one per team) to the session. Attendees who already have a plan are invited to bring their plans for sharing, refining and updating.

The early-bird registration fee is $139 through May 15, and $169 thereafter. Continuing education credits are available.

Farmer is an award-winning professor of communication specializing in public relations, crisis communication and communication skills training. She formed Farmer Communications in 2016 to address the need for such services in Western North Carolina, both in the for-profit and nonprofit communities. She holds a doctorate in communication with emphases in public relations and organizational communication and a master’s degree in journalism, both from the University of Tennessee.

For more information or to register for the workshop, call 828-227-7397 or visit

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