Crisis Blog 7: 10 Year Columbine Shooting Anniversary

On April 20, 1999 two gunmen entered Columbine High School in Colorado with full intentions on killing fellow classmates and teachers. The two men, Eric and Dylan, killed thirteen individuals and then they both committed suicide. This was a tragic day in our history and everyone can remember what they were doing and how they felt on this day. Now, ten years later it is the anniversary of this shooting. From many people on the outside, it may feel as though time has flown by but for the family and friends directly affected by this day, I am sure time has drug by.

Anniversaries are a very important aspect of public relations. If you are skilled and react quick enough to survive the actual crisis, you have to maintain your crisis management skills to get passed the anniversaries that come up every single year. There have been many different events and vigils that have take place on each anniversary of the Columbine shooting. This lets families, friends and the public pay their respects to the people who lost their lives this day.

Many people are wondering what has happended in 10 years to help prevent something like this ever happening again. Every school should have their own Crisis Communication Plan (CCP) to help aid then if a crisis takes places. There was a difference added to Columbine’s CCP after the shooting. There is an emergency box for administrators which now includes: an updated roster of staff and students, blue prints of the school and additional cell phones.

There were also many changes made within the district which included: school and district emergency management plans were implemented, mental health crisis responders were put into place, community crisis response teams were designated, an incident command system was set up and a student risk assessment process was created. All of these things are helping Columbine be more prepared in the event of a crisis.

From a public relations standpoint, make sure you understand that the media will approach your company on the anniversaries of crisis and you should refer to your CCP for suggestions on topics to discuss as well as express your sympathy to individuals that were affected.

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