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Crisis Management Today

Hennes Communications
Crisis Communications  |  Crisis Management  |  Litigation Communications  |  Media Training
February 1, 2019

Our Perspective

First Amendment

How Free Is Free Speech On Social Media?

By Thom Fladung, Hennes Communications  The wild west of social media just keeps getting wilder, doesn’t it?

Starbucks Baristas Served Lukewarm Talking Points

By Howard Fencl, Hennes Communications
There’s still time for Starbucks to work the kinks out of their communications approach in the event Schultz goes for the brass ring.
A Crisis is Coming

Going to School on Crisis Management

By Howard Fencl, Hennes Communications  Attorney David Wolowitz advises independent schools all over the world on the nuances of crisis management and risk avoidance. He recently wrote about the seven steps schools should take to plan for, and deal with, crisis or controversial issues, advice with valuable lessons for any organization.

In the News

Disbarment for Anonymous On-Line Posts

Disbarment for Anonymous On-Line Posts Should “Send a Message,” Says LA Supreme Court

From our friend and colleague, Karen Rubin, attorney at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, Ohio: Do we need another reminder about the perils of posting internet comments on cases and matters we are connected with?  Apparently we do, and here’s a strong one.  
Parkland School Shooting

School Shooting PR Consultant Apologizes After Calling Critics 'Crazies' and Reporter 'Skanky'

The first rule of crisis PR: Don’t let your crisis PR person cause you additional crisis PR.
Social Media

Social Media Outpaces Print Newspapers in the U.S. as a News Source

Social media sites have surpassed print newspapers as a news source for Americans: One-in-five U.S. adults say they often get news via social media, slightly higher than the share who often do so from print newspapers (16%) for the first time since Pew Research Center began asking these questions.


Q:  A recent attendee to a Hennes Communications presentation was prompted to email us this question, regarding the recent incident in Washington, D.C., involving high school students from Covington, Ky., two different groups of activists and whether clever use of crisis communications on behalf of the students had made the incident “go away.” Here’s that exchange, edited for length:  I thoroughly enjoyed and certainly learned from your presentation yesterday. Having the benefit of your “dark magic,” as the author terms it, probably caused me to read this article with a different perspective. The author doesn’t seem to understand the difference between PR and crisis communications as you explained it but he is clearly chastising the media for its cowardice in backtracking and is attempting to get the anti-Covington train back on track.  I recognize it is an opinion piece but it made me angry.
A:  I’m Thom Fladung, the managing partner at Hennes Communications and a 33-year veteran of newspapers. Thanks for raising these points. The D.C. incident, in my view, got at the heart of the many challenges we all face in this era of instant communication and our instinct to rush to judgment in a manner I have not seen in my lifetime.  For the rest of Thom's answer, click here.

Got a question about crisis communications, issues management or reputation management? We've got the answers. Send your question to

Not Everything is a Crisis

Most crises are unexpected and sudden - a traffic accident, explosion, fire, chemical leak, social media attack or criminal arrest.

While a crisis usually appears to be sudden, sometimes you should have seen it coming.  For example, activists who hate your product, lax enforcement of company policies and procedures, deferred maintenance on heavy equipment, or instability in your leadership ranks. 

More often than not, what you're probably facing is an issue, a situation that can and should have been foreseen. For instance, three months from now you know you're going to close a plant, discontinue a product, get a new board chair, acquire a company or announce a rate hike.

Whether it's a crisis or an issue, carefully crafted communications targeting the appropriate audience at the right time can go a long way toward mitigating the amount of reputational damage you experience and the work you need to do to restore confidence among your stakeholders.
Identifying an issue early gives you the added ability to craft a well-rounded strategic plan that not only identifies what you say, it enables you to carefully consider allies you might enlist, initiatives you might employ to blunt the effectiveness of your adversaries and other tactics designed to protect your market. Are there threats looming on your horizon you should address now?  Let us help you create the communications to help you avoid them from evolving from issues you can manage to crises you can’t avoid.

While we sell "crisis" (hence our website name, ), the professionals at Hennes Communications understand the difference between crises and issues.  

And now, we hope you do, too.

Actually, Not Just For Attorneys

For Attorneys
Attorneys across the country increasingly understand the following: 
  • Since there are no real barriers to entry, every P.R. firm in the U.S. now offers “crisis communications.”  In actuality, they don’t.  Crisis work actually requires a different – and often counterintuitive - skill set from the traditional practice of public relations.  As well, it’s also an art form where more often than not we’re helping attorneys and their clients figure out not just what to say, but what to do, which isn’t something learned from a book.
  •  More and more often, attorneys – especially those who truly understand their clients’ business models and wish to offer holistic advice, rather than simply serving as legal “transactionalists” - are beginning to understand that the Court of Public Opinion is arguably more important than the Court of Law, especially since 97% of all cases never actually make it to trial.
  • We tend to be brought into client situations and law firms in one of three ways: The CEO (who heard one of us speak or as a referral) brings us in directly, usually asking us to work alongside their G.C. or their outside law firm.  An attorney attends one of our CLEs, immediately realizes the value we bring to the situation at-hand and recommends retaining us directly by their client or under the law firm umbrella.  An attorney hears one of us speak at a conference and brings us to the law firm to speak to a practice group.  Someone from the firm’s marketing department sits in on that seminar, realizes a similar CLE would be a great value-add to existing clients and/or as a marketing event for new business development and brings us back for that purpose.
For more on this subject, click here.  For a list of upcoming CLEs, click here.

Expert Witnesses for Online Issues - Just a Click Away

The Court of Public Opinion is always in session on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other websites where harsh reviews and caustic criticism carry the day.
Increasingly, the issues that start in this Court of Public Opinion are ending up in a Court of Law. At Hennes Communications, we have experts who understand online reputation management, online media coverage, the impact of negative online content, the effectiveness and cost of search suppression and more.
Looking for an expert witness who can help your client win on these thorny issues? Call Thom Fladung at Hennes Communications at 216-321-7774.


            Media Training

No one trains clients for high-stakes situations better than Hennes Communications. We can teach you how to communicate with power, mastering even the toughest interview, speech or presentation.  Call or email us today and ask us about crisis, media, spokesperson and presentation training/coaching for you, your top executives and managers.

Remember – it's usually not what you say, but how you say it.  Never again go into a media interview unprepared or go before a hostile audience uncoached.                   


You have a situation. 
We have a strategy.  

Because the Court of Public Opinion is always in session.

Upcoming Speaking Events

2/6      Ohio Parks & Recreation Assoc
2/7      Ohio News Media Assoc
2/7      Ohio News Media Association
2/8      Buckingham Doolittle
2/9      Ashland University
2/14     Portage County Safety Council
2/18     Univ of Akron-Dept of Emerg Serv's
2/19     Medina County Safety Council
2/19     Jewish Community Fed of Columbus
2/21     Cuy Cty Office of Emergency Mgmt
View More Events
Hennes Communications. You have a situation. We have a strategy.
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Short Takes

Year in Pictures - 2018  Bloomberg

12 Recent AP Stylebook Changes   Cision

Top 25 News Pictures of 2018  The Atlantic

How Important Are Political Statements By Entertainers?  CommPro

Getting Over a Gaffe  Central Penn Business Journal

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