McGill PR Students Exhibit Strong – and Ethical – Crisis Communication Skills

The following guest post is written by Melissa Agnes who reflects on her experience with McGill PR students

I recently had the opportunity to teach a 3 hour course to Victoria Pickering’s Ethics in PR class at McGill University. Giving guest lectures is something I do regularly onMelissa Agnes at a speaking engagement different topics that derive from the subject of crisis management, but I have to say that this particular experience is one that will stay with me.

 The class as a whole demonstrated a profound understanding of what it means to communicate ethically in a crisis.

The 30+ students in this #PREthics771 class were perceptive, engaging and hungry for knowledge. Through our discussion of today’s crisis realities, and our examination of real-world crises, including the current Ebola crisis and Malaysia Airlines’s crises of 2014, the class as a whole demonstrated a profound understanding of what it means to communicate ethically in a crisis.

 
Melissa Agnes at a speaking engagement

I also had the opportunity to put the students through a crisis simulation where their crisis management capabilities and ethical compasses were challenged – and I was impressed! What I love about crisis simulations is the hands-on and practical experience they provide to students. Considering that the majority of these students have never experienced an organizational crisis first-hand, the professionalism and communication skills they exhibited throughout this exercise is a positive indication of the future of the PR profession in Quebec. Something we can all look forward to.

Going above and beyond will provide you with limitless opportunities

When I give a guest lecture, I’m always looking for the qualities outlined above. Additionally, I’m looking for the students who take advantage of my being there and for those who reach above and beyond. This can be through continued interaction on social media, such as Twitter, as well an outreach and request for further connection on LinkedIn or via email.

I can’t say that all 30+ of the students in this class connected with me outside of the classroom (but hey, they may not have been interested in doing so), but I can say that a few did. Some even went as far as offering to take me for coffee to pick my brain even further.

These are the initiatives that serve a student – or any professional – well. Building your network and surrounding yourself with the people who inspire and can teach you, is how you continue to rise above your fellow classmates, educate yourself further and begin to make a mark on the world around you. This is a quality that will serve you well, not just for your grades, but for your professional career.

An additional point I feel important to make

As someone who is approached for request of my time often, I would like to point out that there is a way to go about doing this – and the McGill students from this class did this well. When you approach a prospective mentor (not that I consider myself a mentor by any means), you can’t selfishly ask for their time. Instead, you have to remember that you’re asking a favor from them and, in doing so, must focus on answering the question of “what’s in it for them?”

Personally, I love to educate and help others along their path or journey wherever I can. BUT I also want to see that they’re respectful of my time. Those who blatantly ask for something from me are instantly disregarded and lose out. Those who take the approach that the students within this class did (which was showing appreciation and respectful regard for my time) will find that, more often than not, their request will be met with a positive and welcoming response.

As someone who is approached for request of my time often, I would like to point out that there is a way to go about doing this – and the McGill students from this class did this well.

Taking chances, building your network and extending your education beyond the classroom is something that will serve you well as a student and as a professional. These are the qualities that make the difference between employee or professional (which let’s face it, is extremely simple to do) and a valuable and recognized asset to an organization, profession and/or industry.

 

Melissa Agnes

Melissa Agnes

Melissa Agnes, crisis management speaker and President of Agnes + Day Inc., has developed an international reputation for crisis and emergency management, planning and training by helping organizations prevent and manage a wide range of issues and crises. 

Melissa is an international and sought-after crisis management speaker. She has spoken in front of audiences including NATO, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Foreign Defense, Ministries of Health, and has been honored to share the stage with members of the Ukraine government and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Check out Melissa’s blog and podcast, and connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

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