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Rumor Has It

While browsing through my Facebook feed I saw this post. Right away I knew that these parents were not given enough or any information from their children's camp…and this is how rumors get started.

Look at the panic in this parent’s response, “It’s cancelled?” Someone else will read this and may immediately assume camp is cancelled. This message could begin to trickle throughout the community, and then this camp may be faced with a big mess.

Negative publicity, confused parents and upset staff can start to feed more rumors. Eventually, this may cause an uncontrollable situation that could affect this camp’s communication, and potentially its reputation for year’s to come.

Crises breeds rumors.

The sociologist Tomatsu Shibutani notes that rumors arise from uncertainty, from the absence of context and concrete information by which those affected by a crisis may understand its significance. Because crises are uncertain by nature, rumors are a fact of life. However, if you provide sufficient information you can minimize or even stop false assumptions before they begin.

During this COVID-19 crisis, stay in touch with your families, staff and alumni. Send them updates and keep your lines of communication open. Realize they are anxious and concerned. Reassure them that their children’s safety is your priority, and you will provide them with as many details as you can. Let them know you will share information with them as it becomes available. If you don’t have any new details then be honest with them. Use your website, social media, emails and text messaging to stay in touch.

Don’t keep your audiences in the dark.

There’s always a possibility for rumors to circulate. However, if you keep your camp’s messages relevant and provide continuous communication you will have better success at controlling your destiny.

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