The SCN Encourager – Tuesday, December 4, 2012

School Crisis PR & the Kansas City Chiefs Tragedy

All of the news about this past weekend’s big college and NFL football games was properly tempered by the shadow of the incomprehensible tragedy that took place in Kansas City, where a member of the Chiefs killed his girlfriend and then killed himself later outside of the team’s facility. It’s likely that you’ve seen the same stories I have. You feel awful about a three-month old baby now without her parents and (as with other similar tragedies) you wonder how all of the other people engulfed in this painful event will cope with their grief.

I always try to follow the stories of tragedies closely. Sometimes events are too close to home and sometimes they’re miles away. But every tragedy bottom-lines what’s really important and elevates our shared humanity to a place of greater importance within each of us, at least for awhile anyway. Whenever our cherished priorities – and all that we care for – are forcibly re-ordered by tragic events, there are always lessons to be learned as a result.

Consider that the team captains of the Kansas City Chiefs, after talking with teammates, asked league officials to allow Sunday afternoon’s football game to go on. In a post-game interview, Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn, made a statement I won’t quickly forget. He said, “What happened is unbelievably sad at every level. I keep asking myself what I could have done differently. And the question I keep wrestling with ­is this – am I always listening to and relating to the people all around me as I should? Usually when I ask someone how they’re doing, I don’t really listen. I just keep moving on. Then when someone asks me how I’m doing, I’m rarely honest. I don’t have the time. For me, I know I should try to a better person to be around. We don’t always have to be on our phones. Life is more than Twitter and Facebook.”

Brady Quinn offers a good dose of perspective for every school communicator who sometimes is called upon to act in the midst of sudden sorrow and crisis. At least his real-world reflections resonated with me. Thanks for letting me share them with you.

Tom Page, SCN managing editor

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