(From Susan) So what’s an average week like in the Notre Dame PR office? That’s easy. There’s NEVER an “average” week, which is one of the great things about it. From Fr. Hesburgh’s 96th birthday bash in Washington D.C. to campus emergency preparedness training to the CBS Sunday Morning crew coming to film on campus, it was “just another week” here at Notre Dame!
From Liz (Social Media Program Manager):
Last week was a busy one in the Notre Dame social media world. Most of the week was spent following up on Commencement activities by posting some of the photos our University photographers captured, and sharing the Commencement 2013 wrap-up video, but Wednesday added a great experience. I was able to travel to Washington D.C. with University president emeritus Father Hesburgh, current University president Father Jenkins and a small party of other Notre Dame dignitaries for a bipartisan celebration of Father Hesburgh’s life. Father Ted turned 96 last Saturday – and celebrated his 70th Jubilee as a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross – and Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, and John Boehner, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, hosted a reception for him at the U.S. Capitol.
After going through security in one of the side entrances of the Capitol building we were led in to the Rayburn Room and one of the most intimidating and fascinating parties I’ve ever attended. The room was filled with important people in our nation’s government, which was daunting for those of us arriving – it isn’t every day that I’m given the opportunity to live tweet comments from Congress men and women, let alone the sitting Vice President. But it was even more interesting to watch how every single person in the room seemed touched and inspired by Father Hesburgh’s presence among them.
“You’re one of the most powerful unelected officials this nation has ever seen” – Vice President Joe Biden on Father Hesburgh
— Notre Dame (@NotreDame) May 22, 2013
(From Julie): In addition to the fun stuff, our focus last week was on our annual emergency preparedness drill, which took place on campus over three days. While we generally play a supporting role in crisis and issue management, the PR team is heavily involved in planning for physical emergencies on campus, such as a tornadoes, fires or other unthinkable scenarios involving shooters, explosions or accidents. Every year we participate in a full-scale exercise involving University leadership and operational teams from all major campus units, including the crisis communications team, which we help to lead. Working with an outside consulting group, we are presented with an extreme (but thankfully fictional) emergency, and then given the opportunity to go through the protocols and procedures we would follow to share information to keep internal and external audiences safe and up-to-date about the unfolding events.
Our tools range from the University website to social media to press releases and responses to media inquiries. We also communicate directly with the campus community through a suite of tools known collectively as ND Alert, which consists of the emergency.nd.edu website, text, phone and email messages that are delivered directly to faculty, staff and/or students, as well as a public address system and an override to the campus cable television system. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep the plan current and make sure everyone is familiar with their roles and responsibilities, but it’s certainly worth it to have the peace of mind of knowing we’re prepared in case the worst happens. I always say the more time and energy we put into it, the less likely we’ll ever have to use it, and for that reason, we continue to pour many hours into the preparation, hoping that continues to be true.
(From Shannon) The bulk of my past week involved managing a bit of a “media frenzy” surrounding Notre Dame Law Professor Lloyd Mayer, who specializes in the laws governing nonprofit organizations and politics. He commented on “IRS Gate,” stating that the roots run deep in the IRS scandal, and before you know it, he had done multiple interviews with The New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic and Politico, among others. I’m not sure he quite knew what he was getting himself into with those comments, but kudos to Mayer for answering every call and email that came his way. Wall Street Journal reporter Mark Maremont called Mayer to get his insight after noticing that his name “seemed to be coming out of every news outlet.” A big “Thank you” to Mayer and the Notre Dame Law School for a great effort!