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2009 Silver Anvil Award Winner – Crisis Communications – Government
Shortly after 3 p.m. on February 14, 2008, a gunman burst onto the stage of a large NIU lecture hall and began firing into an audience of nearly 150 undergraduates. Within three minutes, six people (including the gunman) lay dead, and 19 others were injured. In the minutes, hours and days that followed, NIU Public Affairs successfully managed all aspects of crisis communications, from emergency alerts, news conferences and message development to media relations, event management and speechwriting. One year later, campus, community, media and professional audiences call NIU’s response exemplary. More importantly, the university has emerged from crisis with its reputation as a safe and caring institution intact, without threat of legal action, and inspired by an increase in applications from prospective students.