Shaping the story

  • 22 March 2019
  • 09:30 - 16:00
  • Jurys Inn Glasgow
  • 4

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Shaping the storyShaping the story: Student Services responses to crises and controversies

How can Student Services in higher education communicate strategically and effectively with students, the media and institutional colleagues in times of crisis and about challenging topics?

AMOSSHE members can find the event resources here:

Members only

This professional development event explores how to:

  • Ensure that students are informed and reassured when national or international incidents occur.
  • Work with the media in times of crisis, without compromising how your services respond to the situation.
  • Think ahead to make your communications strategic rather than reactive to emerging events.
  • Create effective relationships with marketing and leadership teams to ensure that your mission is aligned to their messaging.
  • Manage how Student Services aims align with your institution’s identity, reputation and mission, especially when considering challenging topics.

This event is for Student Services leaders with strategic responsibility for communications, as well as other institutional colleagues with similar remits (for example, Academic Registrars). Join sector colleagues for ‘Chatham House rule’ discussions about challenges, lessons learned and good practice, and learn from case studies and sector leaders about effective crisis responses, handling the media, reputation risk management, and more.

Location, time and prices

This one day conference takes place at the Jurys Inn Glasgow hotel, 80 Jamaica Street, Glasgow, G1 4QG.

Registration opens at 09:30, and the first session starts at 10:00. The conference finishes at 16:00.

Here are the delegate prices (which include lunch):

  • AMOSSHE named member - £175 (log in to access this rate)
  • Member colleague (non-member, but an employee of an AMOSSHE member organisation) - £190

You don’t need to pay VAT for AMOSSHE events. Before booking, please read our booking terms and conditions.


Here's the programme for the day:

Time Session
09:30 Registration and refreshments.
10:00 Welcome and context 
Helen McNeely (AMOSSHE Executive Member and Head of Student Affairs at Queen's University Belfast) and Claire Slater (AMOSSHE Executive Member and Deputy Director of Student Services, Residential Life and Wellbeing at University of Bristol) outline the context for the day.

Crisis communications and media frenzy: learning from the University of Bristol
In this case study session Mark Ames (Director of Student Services) and Alicia O’Grady (Director of External Relations) from the University of Bristol discuss their responses to and learning from 2018's high profile media attention, which focused on student deaths at the university. Explore how the Student Services and External Relations teams worked together in a climate of crisis, to ensure that responses to the media were aligned, and that students, their families, and other stakeholders were informed and supported. The session features opportunities for 'Chatham House rule' Q&A to help you learn from Mark and Alicia's experiences.

11:15 Break and refreshments.
11:45 Student support and engagement in the aftermath of a major incident
This session explores how to ensure that students are informed, reassured and supported when national or international incidents occur. Polly Smith (Head of Student Support, University of Salford) draws on her experience of responding to the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena in 2017, to discuss topics including assessing the impact within the university community, initial support actions, communications approaches, responding to media attention, and long-term community support and engagement.
12:45 Lunch.
13:45 Strategic communications: planning ahead
In this practical workshop Alicia O’Grady (Director of External Relations, University of Bristol) explores approaches to help you think ahead and make your Student Services communications strategic rather than reactive to emerging events. This includes discussion of how to speak openly about issues and controversial topics with institutional stakeholders in advance of incidents, so that everyone is prepared to respond if or when they occur.
14:45 Break and refreshments.
15:00 All aboard: ensuring a connected and consistent response in times of crisis on campus
In this session Ian Munton (Director of Library and Student Services, Staffordshire University) discusses the importance of effective and trusted relationships with institutional comms and leadership teams to ensure that your Student Services mission is aligned with their interpretation and messaging. Explore how to align Student Services aims with your institution’s identity, reputation and mission, especially when considering challenging topics; how to take the floor, always and routinely, when it comes to serious issues and controversial topics; and how to keep your job - or more accurately, how to ensure effective, robust, balanced and proportionate responses / reactions to the worst things we have to deal with.
16:00 Finish.

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Photo by Elijah O'Donnell on Unsplash.

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