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Crisis Management Today

Hennes Communications
Crisis Communications  |  Crisis Management  |  Litigation Communications  |  Media Training
March 1, 2020
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Our Perspective

Pandemic - Is this the big one?"
As Coronavirus Spreads, Use Smart Communications to Spread Word on Your Plans
By Bruce Hennes, Hennes Communications
As news of the coronavirus spreads in the communications ecosystem in 2020, it’s understandable if you’re wrestling with how and what to say to your organization’s employees, customers and other stakeholders. Here are a handful of short, digestible, practical and do-able observations and suggestions, as well as a few links to credible websites and experts. 
Baseball in field
Houston Astros Sign Stealing Scandal In Extra Innings As Crisis Communication Errors Pile Up
By Thom Fladung, Hennes Communications
The Houston Astros have now pulled off the rare Triple Crown of mishandled crisis communications: cover up; issue lame apologies; allow the bad news story to keep dripping out, day after day. This is not a coveted award.  What can the Astros do to make it all end? Well, at this point, nothing. At least nothing that will make it end quickly. But they still should do something.
Meeting to Discuss Coronavirus
Coronavirus – Crisis Management, Risk Communications & Practical Advice for Key Executives
By Bruce Hennes, Hennes Communications 
In the face of a coronavirus pandemic, prudent business owners and managers should be using “peace time” to prepare for the worst.
Crisis Management & Crisis Communications
Lots of PR Firms Sell Their Crisis Work – Let The Buyer Beware
By Bruce Hennes, Hennes Communications
With no barriers to entry, every public relations firm in the U.S. now appears to offer “crisis communications.” They don’t. At least, all of those who claim to don’t. Crisis work requires a different – and often counterintuitive – skill set from the traditional practice of public relations.  It’s also an art form where more often than not we’re helping clients figure out not just what to say, but what to do, which isn’t something learned from a book.

In the News

Coronavirus: Allaying Panic, Doctors Talking to Patients, Comparing COVID-19 to Seasonal Flu & Reaction to President Trump’s News Conference
Beyond the headlines and soundbites, the main effect from coronavirus seen thus far in the United States may be confusion. Who to believe. What to believe. And how best to prepare and think about this latest global threat right now. Here, we offer analysis and advice from the United States’ preeminent risk communication speakers and consultants, Dr. Peter Sandman and Dr. Jody Lanard.
Coronavirus/COVID-19: Implications for Commercial and Financial Contracts
Experts at Skadden weigh in on whether the epidemic constitutes force majuere as a legal basis for nonperformance under financial and commercial contracts.
School Computers
Schools Face Five Areas of Technological Risk
Strong digital use policies, trainings and behavioral standards can protect schools from these emerging technology related risks: Mishandling Litigation Holds, Student–Student “Sexting”, Teacher-Student Texting, Social Media Misconduct & Lax Cybersecurity.
Phone ansering machine
Pagers, Pay Phones, and Dialup: How We Communicated on 9/11
The world was a different place when the 9/11 attacks happened 18 years ago. Imagine how social media would fuel—and befoul—the reaction to a similar event today.


Q:  Why should a local school system (K-12) reach out to a crisis communications firm?

A:  From Stephanie York, JD, Vice President, Hennes Communications:   Quick – What’s the single highest priority for a public, private, independent or parochial school?  It’s not education.  It’s safety.  And just one part of that safety net is making sure the communications team has a crisis communications plan at their fingertips should the need arise.  Here are just a few reasons your school district may want to call us, or another reputable and vetted crisis communications firm: When the you-know-what hits the fan, most school communication directors simply don’t have the skill set needed to handle a crisis (as we often tell CEO’s, the skill set that got you into the C-Suite doesn’t automatically mean you have the skill set to manage your way out of a bet-the-farm crisis situation). The practice of public relations and crisis communications are very different — and applying the tactics of one to the other is done at your peril.

To read the rest, please click here.

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

Attention School Board Members,
Superintendents & Attorneys

The Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) has entered into a strategic partnership with Hennes Communications to provide crisis management and communications services to public school systems throughout the state of Ohio facing sudden challenges to their organizations’ reputations and operations. With this partnership, OSBA member school leaders have access 365 days a year to expert crisis communications professionals.

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.

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.               



Upcoming Speaking Events

3/12   Ohio State Bar Leadership Academy (Columbus)
3/12   Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce
3/25   Cleveland Builder's Exchange
3/26   Cleveland State University, School of Communications
4/2     Cleveland State University Leadership Academy
4/4     Torchbearer Leadership Development Workshop
4/13    Intown Club

4/24  Ohio Association of Public Treasurers (Columbus)
5/1     Phillips LPA (Cincinnati)
5/1     Ohio School Board Association – Board Leadership Institute (Columbus)
5/1     Palm Beach Bar Association
5/1     Shapiro, Blasi, Wasserman & Hermann (Boca Raton)
5/12   Summit County (Ohio) PIO Workshop
6/9     Ohio Hospital Association (Columbus)

In 2019, we did 103 speaking events.  About three-quarters of those events were for legal audiences.  The rest were for a variety of conferences in a wide variety of market sectors.

If you'd like to bring us in to speak to your organization, perhaps for your practice group, as a value-add for your existing clients or as a new business development event, please give Bruce Hennes a call at 216-321-7774.
View More Events

Short Takes

Historic Iwo Jima Footage Shows Individual Marines Amid the Larger Battle  The Conversation

Corporate Social Responsibility in the Age of Shaming

New Study Looks at How to Manage a Reputation-Threatening Brand Crisis  Continuity Central.

The Words and Phrases Your Spokespeople Need to Stop Using  MediaFirst

Humility as an Attribute of Effective Leadership  CommPro

See Something, Say Something

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