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Crisis Management Today

Hennes Communications
Crisis Communications  |  Crisis Management  |  Litigation Communications  |  Media Training
April 15, 2020
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Our Perspective

What We’ve Learned So Far: Communicating About COVID-19
By Nora Jacobs, Hennes Communications
Having a message, having the ability to deliver it with clarity and empathy, and being able to convey a sense of control along with a commitment to values have never been more important.  Here are some of the lessons our clients have learned as they navigate these uncharted waters.
COVID-19 – We’re Here for You (Yes, We Really, Really Are)
We are living in uncertain and unprecedented times, so it’s important for you to know that we’ve been here since 1989 – and that our top priority is people.  From the safety of our home and yours, we’re here for you.  We really are.  And we won’t just tell you – we’ll show you.  And after you watch this video, you will know we care.  Because we’re all in this together.
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.
When Court Moves Online, Do Dress Codes Still Matter?
Justice is supposed to be blind. But in courtrooms, decorum matters.  Judges typically dress in somber black robes. Lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants are encouraged to dress modestly to signify credibility.
Does that change when court hearings are moved online to enable social distancing during the spread of the new coronavirus?
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

When and How to Emerge from Our COVID-19 Lockdown Is a Political Question; It Will Kill People Even If It’s Done Right
Everyone wants to know when we can begin going back to the lives we had just a month or so ago and when businesses will reopen. Knowing that there’s much misinformation out there, we rarely post anything about this particular portion of the COVID-15 debate, but we saw something written by someone with impeccable credentials, Peter Sandman, perhaps the country’s preeminent expert when it comes to “risk communications.” Sandman was one of the authors of the bible of our industry, “Crisis Emergency & Risk Communication,” the 250 page guide published by the CDC (“Be First. Be Right. Be Credible.) that many top political officials are clearly ignoring. To underscore Sandman’s credentials, he’s a colleague of Dr. Fauci. This article will tell you what is likely to happen next.
Customer wheel
What Customers Need to Hear from You During the COVID Crisis
Many brands have turned off their marketing efforts during the pandemic, but Jill Avery and Richard Edelman, writing for the Harvard Business School, argue that now is the time when customers need to hear from you most. But what do you say?
How to Talk to Patients About COVID-19
As the numbers of people infected and dying from COVID-19 grow, so do fear and apprehension about what lies ahead. Clear, effective communication to help patients navigate this unknown territory is critical.
Maintaining Role and Boundary Awareness When Teaching Remotely in a Time of Crisis: Being Alert to the Challenges of One-on-One Electronic Communications
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools have instituted remote learning.  We are fortunate that so many schools and families have access to the technology to make this possible.  Not surprisingly, the sudden and unexpected shift to remote learning comes with many challenges.  One particular issue that may be overlooked is the potential for missteps in teacher–student relationships due to increased opportunities for unobserved electronic one-on-one communications.
Governor Cuomo
5 Crisis Communications Lessons from Cuomo’s Coronavirus Response
Business leaders and PR professionals can examine Cuomo’s press conferences for several crisis communications lessons. While the New York governor lacks flowery language and eloquent public speaking abilities, his communications style helps calm the public and accurately inform audiences.  His communications style shows that florid language is not necessary for effective leadership.

Short Takes

Reese Witherspoon’s Fashion Line Offered Free Dresses to Teachers. They Didn’t Mean Every Teacher.  New York Times
What Can You Do to Help Your Employees Through this Crisis?  National Law Review
Obama Gives Biden His Endorsement. He Should Really Give Him His Lighting, That Set and His Camera.  Washington Post
We Need Physical Distance, Not Social Distance  CommPro

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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 via Zoom or your preferred video platform.



Upcoming Speaking Events

4/29   Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce
4/30   Ohio Health Care Association
5/1     Palm Beach County Bar Association - Law Day
5/1     Palm Beach County Bar Association - Law Day (webinar)
5/12   Summit County PIO Workshop
5/15    Cleveland State University, Levin College of Urban Affairs
5/21    Ohio Health Care Association
6/9     Ohio Hospital Association

7/24   National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
7/30    Greene County Educational Services Center
7/24    National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
7/30    Greene County Educational Services Center
10/8    National Aging Services Risk Management Conference
10/14   Akron Women's Network

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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