Columbine and Communication Changes

By Nora Carr

Ten years after the worst school massacre in U.S. history, the Columbine High School tragedy continues to shape crisis communications, particularly in K-12 education.

The shooting left 15 dead and dozens wounded, shattering a community and forever changing how the nation views school safety. It remains the standard against which other school tragedies are inevitably judged.

Post-Columbine, crisis management for schools and school districts has become more sophisticated while the communications environment has become more complex. Managing these issues well has become a hallmark of strong leadership teams and a highly prized asset.

On the other hand, poor communications management can increase harm and permanently damage organizations and their leaders. In fact, research shows that reputation recovery often hinges more on how well communications are handled than on the decisions made, actions taken, or whether the school or district is somehow to blame.

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