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Crisis Management Today

Hennes Communications
Crisis Communications  |  Crisis Management  |  Litigation Communications  |  Media Training
September 15, 2019
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Our Perspective

A Reputation Management Lesson: Even the Legends Must Be On Guard – Constantly
By Thom Fladung, managing partner, Hennes Communications  When Tylenol tablets were replaced with cyanide leading to deaths 37 years ago, Johnson & Johnson’s response was exceptional. It’s still taught today in textbooks about effective crisis management.  Now, Johnson & Johnson finds itself in another reputation-defining moment. In a very different time.
Michigan State University logo
Crisis Management FAIL:  Michigan State Paying the Price for Their Systemic Failure to Address the Nassar Sex Abuse Accusations
By Nora Jacobs, senior vice president, Hennes Communications  There’s no question Nassar’s behavior would have been a crisis of major proportions under any circumstances.  However, it might have done significantly less long-term reputational damage if the university had a process in place to identify and appropriately act on behavior like this as soon as it was discovered. 

In the News

The Political Apology
Demanding political apologies is a contemporary political rite. But to what end? When we get them, are we ever really satisfied? Do they pull politicians out of hot water, or plunge them in ever deeper?
The Consequences of 'Horse Race' Reporting
When journalists covering elections focus primarily on who’s winning or losing — instead of on policy issues — voters, candidates and the news industry itself suffer, a growing body of research has found.
Pagers, Pay Phones, and Dialup: How We Communicated on 9/11
The voice messages are artifacts that underscore the bravery and sacrifice of that day exactly 18 years ago, but also offer a unique glimpse into how different an era 2001 truly was. 
Three Tips for Revamping Your Crisis Management Strategy
A company can build up a great brand reputation one day, only to have an unforeseen PR crisis tarnish its brand the next day. Effective crisis management can not only mitigate the negative impact that such an event causes, but also has the potential to build up a company’s brand reputation in the long run. 


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:  Written, tested and ready-to-go business continuity plans should just be part of doing business in today’s world. Here are some common mistakes we’ve seen in this effort.  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

Why Hennes?

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 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

9/17   NE Ohio Regional Library System (Cleveland)
9/17   International Union of Marine Insurance (Toronto)
9/18   Federal Emergency Management Agency Midwest Conference (Chicago)
9/18   Wickens Herzer Panza (Cleveland)
9/18   Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy (Richfield, Ohio)
9/19    Bober Markey Fedorovich (Akron)
9/23    Mecklenburg County Bar Association (Charlotte, North Carolina)
9/25    FLUX (Akron)
9/25    National Association of Bar Executives (Cleveland)
9/26   Arizona State Bar Association (Phoenix)
9/27   Consortium of Metro Bar Associations (Phoenix)
View More Events

Short Takes

On 9/11, Luck Meant Everything  The Atlantic

What Makes People Charismatic, and How You Can Be, Too  New York Times

How to Speak Up When You Can’t Find the Words CommPro

When the Media Cover Mass Shootings, Would Depicting the Carnage Make a Difference?  The Conversation

What IS Suspicious Activity?  U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

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