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Crisis Management Today

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

The Age of Outrage: Crisis Management in Social Media Pile-Ons

By Howard Fencl, Hennes Communications
There’s nothing the self-righteous embrace more than joining with their fellow self-righteous to gang up on some unfortunate target. Publishing a statement explaining the facts doesn’t seem to slow the ceaseless stream of invective. Is there an alternative communication strategy? It’s not for the meek, but there’s a viable alternative strategy emerging.

Paper Straws
Used a Paper Straw Lately?  You Will.

By Nora Jacobs, Hennes Communications
Clients often ask us the difference between a crisis and an issue.  They have a number of elements in common.  Perhaps the most significant being their potential for threatening an organization’s bottom line and its position in the marketplace. One example: paper straws.

In the News

Lessons from the Boeing Airline Crisis
Lessons From The Boeing Airline Crisis – And From The Crisis Management Industry’s Response
The crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 and subsequent focus on the Boeing 737Max airliner brought with it the usual analysis and reaction from crisis communications consultants. Some of our crisis communications peers provided insight into how Boeing was dealing with its crisis. And some reaction, unfortunately, we found lacking in basic research and shallow in judgment.
Want to Make a Great First Impression? A Princeton Psychologist Says Be Aware of 3 Snap Judgments People Make
A Princeton University psychologist found that people make judgments on whether or not someone is trustworthy, competent, and likeable within one second of seeing someone’s face (trustworthiness clocking in at an incredible 100 milliseconds).

The Tweeting Cow and the "Streisand Effect"
Seeking $250 million in damages, Rep. Devin Nunes sued Twitter and others, claiming that some tweets were defamatory and that Twitter was negligent for not removing the posts and not blocking the Twitter users. For businesses and individuals contemplating a libel lawsuit, Nunes’ lawsuit is a reminder of the Streisand Effect, in reference to Barbara Streisand’s invasion of privacy lawsuit against a photographer who had photographed her Malibu home and posted the photo online.


Q: How do you convince leadership that creating a crisis communications plan is a good idea?
A:  From Thom Fladung, Managing Partner at Hennes Communications:  We get it. People don’t want to think about their businesses or organizations being thrown into a crisis because there’s been a data breach, or an allegation of sexual harassment, or an inappropriate social media post.  

And who wants to spend money on a plan for something that may well never happen? Show me the return on investment on that.

Here’s a fact to share with top management: Your organization’s reputation is its greatest uninsured asset. And how you communicate during a crisis will be noted and remembered by your most important stakeholders – your employees, your customers, your donors, your business partners. Talking about your crisis may be the last thing you want to think about or do in the early stages of a crisis. But those communications will be the first thing your key stakeholders hear about you during the crisis. And, trust us, they’re waiting to hear from you.

If you’re trying to use those arguments to convince a skeptical CEO of the need for a crisis communications plan, the organization’s attorney – whether in-house general counsel or trusted outside attorney – may well be your most important and effective ally.

For the rest of this piece, 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.  For another example, click here.

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.

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.

Lawdragon Honors Hennes Communications CEO

We are honored to announce that Bruce Hennes was recently named to the 2019 Lawdragon 100 Leading Consultants and Strategists, the definitive guide to the financiers, recruiters, marketing and communication gurus
on whom the legal profession relies.

According to Lawdragon, "These are 100 of the most trusted advisors
to the legal profession."  

You can see the entire list

Upcoming Speaking Events

4/3    Lynch Law Firm (Pittsburgh)
4/4    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
5/2   Ohio Health Care Assoc. (Columbus)
5/15  Beachwood Chamber of Commerce
5/15  Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce
5/20  Ohio Assisted Living Assoc. (Columbus)
6/3    Nat'l. Assoc of Clean Water Agencies
6/4    Winding River Mg. Partner Boot Camp
6/7    Hahn Loeser
7/11  Lawyer - Pilots Bar Association
8/15  OH State Univ Leadership Academy
View More Events
Hennes Communications. You have a situation. We have a strategy.
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Short Takes

4 Opening Lines That Impress Reporters   PR Daily

Crisis Management: Managing Negative Celebrity Endorser Publicity  Continuity Central

7 Critical Steps to Crisis Management  Inc.

Making the Case for Including Terrorism Incidents in Your Business Continuity Plan  Continuity Central

Every Business Should Have a Plan  Federal Emergency Management Agency

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