Crisis Communication and Communication Strategy

Memphis College of Art, a small visual arts college in Memphis founded in 1936, was grappling with financial issues that eventually led the board to vote to stop admitting students and begin to wind down operations. During a yearlong engagement, I worked with the college president, the communications director and the chairman of the board, providing media relations and internal and external communications counsel.

We anticipated and prepared for anger and criticism that followed the closure announcement, especially in social media channels. We also accomplished our larger goal of helping various audiences understand the complex reasons behind the board’s decision by honestly communicating about the events that led to the closure vote. After the closure announcement, we continued to develop communications that promoted the ongoing value and remaining programs of the college, and supported students and faculty as the college entered the official two-year wind-down phase.