Virus Communication at U of Oregon: Consistent with Reasonable Repetition

[Editor’s Note:This article is a collaboration between PRNEWS and the Institute for PR. Juan-Carlos Molleda, Edwin L. Artzt dean and professor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, relates lessons he’s learned during the pandemic.]

Juan-Carlos Molleda, Dean/Professor, University of Oregon School of Communication

In February, the University of Oregon activated an emergency preparedness plan to address the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite having a plan, our president noted: “We’re going to come out of this situation different than when we went in, and we’re going to make mistakes.”

I surely have, but I am working hard to make things right for my school community, which needs timely and accurate information, encouragement and hope. The aim is to reduce the high levels of anxiety and uncertainty felt by all. Our responses follow a central guiding principle: to prioritize the safety, health and well-being of our student body.
The Need to Over-Communicate
Initially, I felt strict communication policies would constrain me. Messages from the university president, provost and chief resilience officer were the only stream of information faculty, staff and students received at the outset. However, colleagues made it clear they wanted to hear from me, the dean, as well.

I initiated conversations with my executive team, faculty and staff about school-specific information, core messaging from university officials, and genuine expressions of concern and team spirit.

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