New crisis communications position nothing to worry about, says communications director

Ryerson is hiring a crisis communications officer, but that doesn’t mean there’s reason to panic, according to Michael Forbes, group director of communications at the university.

The person hired to the new position will do work that traditionally has been handled by the group director and manager of public affairs, positions currently held by Forbes and Johanna VanderMaas, respectively. Hiring someone for crisis communications will alleviate some of the duties from these two positions, opening them up to focus on other work.

According to Forbes, crisis communications has never suffered due to the lack of a specifically designated position. But what has taken a back seat are other, more positive stories that Ryerson wants to share.

“There’s a lot of interesting university stories that we want to tell and promote,” said Forbes. “[Hiring a crisis communications officer] would enable us to spend more time telling the great stories, the good stories supporting our students, staff and faculty.”

The responsibility for informing community members of any dilemmas will still fall to the group director, but the new role, which is set to be filled in April, will provide support to ensure that Ryerson students and staff are properly aware of these situations. There are 18 different avenues to inform students and staff, depending on the severity of the situation. These avenues range from social media posts on Twitter and Facebook, to posting on the Ryerson website, to emailing students and faculty directly.

“We will have additional resources at hand, heaven forbid something happens,” said Forbes.


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