Virginia Tech Communication Debate: ‘Text messaging could cause more chaos unless handled with great caution’ says messageyou chairman
Sunnyvale, CA: messageyou Llc, a pioneer of text messaging for school communication, today said that a knee-jerk response to communication could add to the chaos in crises such as the Virginia Tech massacre.
“Text messaging is undoubtedly a powerful and ubiquitous tool,” messageyou Chairman Mark Fortunatow said. “However, after years of experience with school-to-parent communication, we have learned that all such communication is sensitive, but text messaging in particular has to be handled with great caution because of its high impact and high cut-through nature.
“A text messaging solution has to be capable of being deployed instantly, but it has to be a system that is already well understood by the whole school community.
“It needs to work even at high stress times, when panic can make it difficult for those involved to think and act logically, and when the recipients may even think it is a joke."
According to several news reports, there was a communication breakdown on the massive Virginia Tech campus, with university authorities reportedly sent an email two hours later saying that a shooting was being investigated.
Mr Fortunatow said that with the correct policies for emergency response in place it can take as little as 10 minutes from the decision to send an appropriate message to receipt on thousands of cell phones.
“While we all hope and pray that such events will never happen again – and certainly not to our families – we do ask that consideration is paid, while this incident is fresh in people’s minds, to at least putting in place crisis communication policies.”
The messageyou solution is used in several Arizona high schools to automatically send text messages to parents’ and students’ cell phones, alerting them to unexplained absences and other school matters.
“These schools already have systems that can easily be tailored for crisis communication,” Mr. Fortunatow said.
“All too often after such incidents, people complain about mishandling and miscommunication,” Mr. Fortunatow added. “But within days, the news drops off the front page, and everything goes back to normal until, inevitably, another crisis occurs.”
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