Guest Speaker: Sandy Gholston

By: Carman Plank

“Everybody has a plan, until they get hit,” Mike Tyson once said. Sandy Gholston, News Services and Social Media Manager at Ferris State University, used this quote when speaking to Ferris State PRSSA last Thursday about crisis communication.


While speaking to PRSSA, Sandy Gholston spoke about the most recent crisis on campus (county-wide power outage), and how he played a role in getting the university prepared to take a stance on it. Sandy, along with other administrators on campus, had to figure out what the most efficient way to get the message out about the power outage would be. Although email would work with students that had smart phones, it would not reach everyone. That’s when Sandy and the other administrators had to get creative.

“Get your fundamentals down. Know what you’re going to do and how you’re going to say it,” said Gholston. A crisis is never planned so when it comes up, Sandy stated that the number one key to dealing with it is to “stay calm and stick to what you know.” Although the situation may change, your fundamentals don’t. Whether it’s a school closing due to weather or a crisis such as a county-wide power outage, the fundamentals are the same.

After speaking about crisis communication, Sandy opened the floor up to the students so that they could ask questions:

How do you feel about students tweeting about the university, especially with the upcoming of the Twitter account @FerrisProbz (an account that talks about the issues and problems on Ferris State’s campus)?

“I think it’s important for students to do this because it brings the issues that students have to the administration and shows them the value of social media.”

What is the best part of your job?

“I love being able to tell the stories of the people on campus. Alumni, students and faculty.”

What is the most difficult part of your job?

“The lack of resources to accomplish everything we want to accomplish. We make due with what we have, but it’d be nice to do more.”

Ferris State PR thoroughly enjoyed having Sandy Gholston to speak at our meeting and loved learning about the “behind the scenes” work that goes on during a crisis.


About ferrisprssa

We speak the truth with compassion. We embrace diversity in all forms. We are innovative, creative, upbeat and engaged. We are the Ferris State University PRSSA Chapter! Our student-run PR firm gives students outstanding hands-on experience and professional training.
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One Response to Guest Speaker: Sandy Gholston

  1. I wish I could have attended this event! Crisis communications is something that’s not fun to deal with, but is very important to PR. I’m sure it was an informative presentation.

    I like Sandy’s response to @FerrisProbz. I think it’s a good thing that the university doesn’t overlook something that comes off sarcastic/entertainment for students. Organizations have to be prepared for the good, bad, and ugly – and it’s important to engage with the positive and negative feedback to make a better experience for students and faculty.

    Great recap, Carman!


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