Virginia Tech: Lessons Learned in Crisis Communications

A Corporate Communications Section Brown Bag Discussion

Hosted by the Corporate Communications Section.

This interactive discussion is not currently available. Email the Sections Department to inquire about future availability of this program.

Categories: Communication Strategy, Crisis & Reputation

In 2007, Virginia Tech’s communications team found itself in the middle of the worst shooting ever on a university campus. The crisis communications were an essential part of getting out lifesaving information, as well as informing the country and world of the situation. What did the team learn that day? How did those lessons inform their crisis communications plans moving forward, and what is pertinent today? Hear from the assistant vice president for news and information at Virginia Tech, who was in charge of communications on the day of the shootings.
Session topics will include:

  • Digital and social strategy.
  • Short- and long-term communications response.
  • Managing the media in a large-scale crisis.
  • How to address the changing dynamics of the media in communications planning.
  • Why every corporation should have a crisis communications plan in place for a shooting.

Please note that you must be an active member of the Corporate Communications Section to register for this Brown Bag discussion. PRSA members, join the Corporate Communications Section today.


Mark Owczarski, assistant vice president, news and information, Virginia Tech

In his role, Owczarski oversees eight college and university division communications programs, as well as the university’s media relations and internal communications efforts. Virginia Tech News is a major element of his department.



Julia Reusch, communications manager, Allstate Insurance

As communications manager for Allstate’s Northeast Region, Reusch oversees all internal and external issues management, as well as executive support, for the seven states that comprise the region. Prior to making the switch to communications three years ago, Reusch worked in television for 10 years — as a director for reality shows such as Animal Planet’s “Tanked,” a sports producer helping to launch SprinTV, and as a news producer. Reusch is a member of the PRSA Corporate Communications Executive Committee.