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Crisis Management Today

Hennes Communications
Crisis Communications  |  Crisis Management  |  Litigation Communications  |  Media Training
March 1, 2019
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Our Perspective

The New Law of Litigation Communications: Your Case Will Now Be Heard – On Facebook

By Thom Fladung, Managing Partner, Hennes Communications 

Attorney Jim Haggerty pleads the case to attorneys that litigation communications is important: “Communicating effectively during litigation is about managing the public opinion aspects of legal disputes as effectively as you manage any other aspect of the litigation or transaction. It is not an afterthought. It is not an extra. It is not something to be handed off to the client’s PR team or decided over drinks after a long, hard day of ‘real’ legal work. Rather, in this new reality, communications is central to the strategic whole – whether you are confronting litigation, a regulatory investigation, a labor issue or any other type of legal dispute.”  For the rest of this, click here.

A Lawyer, C.I.A. Analyst and a Crisis Management Specialist Walk Into a Bar…

By Bruce Hennes, CEO, Hennes Communications

Bad things do happen to good people, to good companies, agencies, nonprofits, schools and hospitals.  But as Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”  And when those things do happen, it’s important to have both lawyers and seasoned crisis managers in the room, each with the ability to say “yes” or “no” with conviction, backed-up with the kind of experience that can’t be found in a book.
Tell the Truth & Tell It First

Tell the Truth & Tell It First

From local newspaper and television stories to social media reviews, coverage of your business or organization sways the opinions of consumers interested in your operation. When press is positive, everyone basks in the warmth. But when negative media hits, what you say and do are crucial to weathering the storm. The principles in this article can help your organization navigate negative media coverage effectively.

In the News

'No shit, Sherlock.  Let's get on with it.'

Since our founding thirty years ago, Hennes Communications has been involved in a number of high-profile, national stories.  Our crisis management consultants have first-hand and direct second-hand experience being on the receiving end of calls from nationally-known reporters, morning show guest bookers, field producers, bloggers and freelancers (most legit; some not) asking/demanding information, access, interviews and photos.  To their credit, we can say that the vast majority of those calls came from journalists and news organizations that served the God of Truth.  However, in today’s era of social media, there is a new god in town:  The God of Speed.  And when the two gods compete, guess which god often wins?  This has led to a new form of journalism called Iterative Journalism, which we’ve written about in the past.  We thought this first-hand depiction of a recent news situation would be of interest to readers of our Crisis Management Today newsletter.
Why We Should All Avoid the Jussie Smollett-Style Rush to Judgment 

We still don’t know all the facts surrounding Jussie Smollett – so let’s not rush to condemnation with the same fury his supporters rushed to judgment about his “attackers.” As troubled as he may be, he is entitled to due process.

When an Alumnus Says Something Offensive

Cornell University officials acted instantly when an honoree at an event used a word considered by many to be offensive.  Many present were upset but praised the university for not ignoring what happened.  This article details steps taken by the university to address the issue.  We believe you’ll also find the comments below the article to be of equal interest.


Q:  How do you handle the situation where you’re dealing with a client whose attorney doesn’t want to issue a statement other than, “No Comment”?

A:  [From Stephanie York, JD, Hennes Communications]  As an attorney, I understand the knee-jerk instinct to say “We don't comment on pending litigation.” When we are faced with attorneys who counsel their clients not to return media calls or to only say “no comment,” we explain that in the “Court of Public Opinion,” silence is never appropriate -- especially when your opponent is telling their side of the story without being challenged.  When your clients are accused of something and they don’t respond, that silence will inevitably be interpreted as negative, as in “They must be hiding something.” Or worse, “They must be GUILTY!”  While we understand there are some things you can’t say because they are legally impermissible or morally or ethically not appropriate, there is always something you can and should say. For the rest of this answer, click here.

Have a question about crisis management, crisis communications or issues management?  We have 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 full 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

3/4       Case Western Reserve University School of Law
3/6       Private Nonprofit Media Training
3/6       Ohio City/County Mgmt Association
3/7       Ohio State Bar Leadership Academy
3/15      American Bar Association - Bar Leadership  Academy (Chicago)
4/13      Lynch Law Firm (Pittsburgh)

4/14     Lynch Law Firm (Pittsburgh)
4/8       West Virginia State Bar Assoc
4/11      Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh
4/17      Black Professional Association Charitable 
Foundation, Co-Presented by the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Assoc, Ohio Hispanic Bar Assoc, Norman S. Minor Bar Assoc & Asian American Bar Assoc of Ohio
View More Events
Hennes Communications. You have a situation. We have a strategy.
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Short Takes

9 Phrases You'll Hear Effective Leaders Say to Inspire and Motivate Their Employees

77 Questions Commonly Asked by Journalists During a Crisis   Center for Risk Communications

3 Tips to Have Better Conversations  New York Times

What CEOs Should Know About Protecting Cyber Infrastructure  Chief Executive

The Bizarre and Brilliant Rules for Naming New Stuff in Space  Washington Post
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Crisis Communications  |  Crisis Management  |  Litigation Communications  |  Media Training
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