When Disaster Strikes: Turning misfortune into opportunity
As communications professionals our jobs aren’t just about communicating information. It’s about creating solutions.
When a fire broke out on the roof of our main library at Kansas State University on May 22, 2018, it created many challenges for both our library system and our university. Our experience is a case study for how strategic communications and messaging can help you overcome even the most difficult situations. Although I sincerely hope your challenge is on a much smaller scale than a library disaster.
While it is difficult to boil down the extent of damage the fire caused, here’s the highlight reel:
- 80 percent of our 550,000-square-foot building had to be gutted due to smoke and water damage. All carpet, ceiling, and wiring have to be replaced. Most of the furniture and much of the drywall were damaged beyond repair.
- Our 1.5 million item collection that was in the building had to be removed and is still in the process of being cleaned.
- The building was closed for 15 months. The entire renovation and restoration is estimated to take nearly two and a half years.
- Our 80-plus library staff were relocated to 10 different locations where we remain today.
But we’ve managed to turn a devastating situation into an opportunity. We’ve raised over $3.9 million since the fire and gained over 600 new library donors so far.
At LMCC, I look forward to discussing how a university’s crisis communications protocol can play into a situation like this, the importance of communication plans, and how we used strategic messaging and tactics to get results. However, if there is something specific you are interested in hearing about, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether you are able to join me at this LMCC session or not, I look forward to meeting you! You can also learn more about our journey and subscribe to our blog, blogs.k-state.edu/hale, which has chronicled our recovery efforts.