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Crisis Management Today

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

COVID-19 & Crisis Communications
Combating Uncertainty: How to Talk about COVID-19
By Howard Fencl, Hennes Communications
You and your employees can act to combat its spread. That’s why it’s important to communicate proactively and regularly so the people we care most about can take appropriate steps to fight the virus and better focus on their work.
Layoffs in Age of Coronavirus: Delivering News That Will Make People Hate You
By Thom Fladung, Hennes Communications 
Telling employees they’ve lost their jobs is one of the most unpleasant, thankless tasks a business leader takes on. It’s also one of the most important. How you deliver the bad news will help determine how your business goes forward and how the employees who remain will regard the company and their jobs. 
Powerful woman on video call
Tips for a Better Video Call
By Bruce Hennes, Hennes Communications
Whether you’re using FaceTime, Zoom, Hangouts, WebEx, Teams or any of the other video call platforms, there are a few universal do’s and don’ts if you want to look and sound professional.
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

How the Pandemic Will End
The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out.
When It Comes to the Pandemic, Scared Is Good
If officials keep dumbing down “panic” so it just means anxiously taking precautions against something scary, fine. But then they shouldn’t suddenly revert to the real definition and warn people that “this isn’t a time to panic” (when is?) or, worse yet, withhold upsetting truths out of fear that people will panic.
9/11's Lessons on Crisis Leadership
September 11 changed how U.S. Special Forces operated — and offers lessons for today’s leaders.
CDC Crisis Emergency Manual
Be First. Be Right. Be Credible.
This guidebook has been used for the last 18 years by responsible elected officials and public health directors to offer guidance and instill confidence in a wide variety of situations.  At Hennes Communications, we’ve based much of the training we do on the concepts taught in this guidebook. Today, however, it seems that a number of elected officials across the U.S. have decided to ignore this guidebook.


Q:  What can you do to help your employees through this COVID-19 crisis?

A:  From Bruce Hennes, CEO, and Stephanie York, JD, Hennes Communications:   We’ve all been inundated by the media with COVID-19 information, but what can you do to help your employees get through this crisis?  The best thing you can do to prepare your team for whatever is about to come is to communicate, communicate and then communicate some more.  They want to know what COVID-19 means to them – especially how will it affect their ability to provide for their family.  Will they lose their job?  Will the company survive?  Does the company have a plan if COVID-19 infects many employees?  And, while you may not have all the answers, and maybe none of the answers, there are still things you can and should communicate about.  First, you should acknowledge that you don’t have the ultimate answer to “what is going to happen” with respect to the virus, its trajectory and what will happen to the economy long-term.  But you can, and should, reassure your employees with things you do know now. 

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.

Of course, due to the coronavirus situation, we now offer this training in a virtual environment .      



Upcoming Speaking Events

4/1    Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University
4/4    Torchbearer Leadership Development Workshop
5/1     Palm Beach County Bar Association - Law Day (webinar)
5/1     Ohio School Board Association - Board Leadership Institute
5/1      Phillips Law Firm (Cincinnati)
5/12    Summit County PIO Workshop
5/15     Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University

5/21   Ohio Health Care Association (webinar)
6/9     Ohio Hospital Association (Columbus)
7/24    National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
7/30    Greene County Educational Services Center
9/22    Winding River Managing Partner Boot Camp (Louisville, KY)
10/6    City of Green, Ohio
10/7     Fire & Emergency Manufacturers & Services Association (New Orleans)

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

If you'd like to bring us in to speak to your organization, either virtually or in-person, 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

CEO Message

As you might imagine, we've been inundated with requests for assistance from a wide variety of businesses and nonprofit organizations regarding the coronavirus, especially as CEO's, owners and executive directors begin to realize that they are all in a “when” situation, not an “if.” 
To respond to those calls, we’ve created a suite of documents, a playbook, actually, customized top-to-bottom for each client. This playbook speaks to the fact that the largest uninsured asset these organizations have is their reputation.  And especially during this current situation, they have both a business duty, as well as a moral duty, to communicate quickly with all of their stakeholders, internal and external.  This Coronavirus Rapid Response Plan includes communication plans before and after an employee or stakeholder is diagnosed with COVID-19. 

For more information, please call 216-321-7774.

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