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Crisis Management Today

Hennes Communications
Crisis Communications  |  Crisis Management  |  Litigation Communications  |  Media Training
June 15, 2022
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Our Perspective

Microphone & Newspapers
How Your Reputation Can Survive Media Public Records Requests
By Howard Fencl, Hennes Communications
Public record requests can be complex and time-consuming. In many instances you need to drop everything you’re doing and launch a scavenger hunt through voluminous caches of electronic and paper records across a number of different departments to fulfill the reporter’s request. Yes, it may be frustrating, and it may be a grind. It’s also your job and it’s always worth remembering that these records belong to the public – you know, those folks paying your salary.
7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Crisis Communications Firm
By Bruce Hennes, Hennes Communications
Over the last 20 years, we’ve learned some great lessons about crisis communications: Crisis communications is often counter-intuitive to the traditional practice of PR; it’s more than likely your bad news is going to break on social media rather than TV or tomorrow’s newspaper; you can’t learn crisis communications (along with sister sub-specialties crisis management, risk management, risk communications and issues management) from books, blogs or from relatively minor scrapes and small problems; more often than not, we’re not just helping people figure out what to say, we're helping them figure out what to do; when it hits the fan, you’ll likely be punished not for what happened, but for what you did (or didn't do) after it happened; there should always be someone in the room willing to speak truth to power; and just because the website lists "crisis communications" as a specialty doesn't necessarily mean the firm actually has that expertise. Here are 7 simple questions to ask to help you separate experienced practitioners from poseurs.
Don't Tell Me What to Think
Newspaper Giant’s New Editorial Approach Creates Crisis Communications Challenges
By Howard Fencl, Hennes Communications
Surprise! Fewer and fewer newspaper readers pore over editorial pages. So many fewer, that publishing giant Gannett recently announced a sweeping change in its approach to editorials, op-eds and political endorsements. Gannett says its readers don’t want to be told what to think – that editorial content is frequently the reason readers cancel subscriptions – and that opinion journalism stokes the fires of distrust in the media.
Florida School Board Association Partners with Hennes Communications to Provide Issues Management Crisis Management & Communications Services to Members
There are scores of reasons why your district can be thrust into the news. Lawsuit…sports controversy…social media threats…board-superintendent clash…criminal accusation…discrimination complaints…diversity issues…FERPA or HIPAA violation…fiscal mismanagement…protest…sexual misconduct…student newspaper story…challenging conversations…testing controversy…active shooter...union grievance/strike…Suddenly, there’s a TV crew in the parking lot, your local newspaper is on Line One and the situation is already on Facebook.

In the News

Front Page of Uvalde Newspaper
The Staff of Uvalde’s Local Paper Cover the Worst Day of Their Lives
The news, as it initially came over the police scanner in staticky bursts of information, was confusing. A shooting, a car crash, a man with a gun at Robb Elementary School. At the Uvalde Leader-News, the newspaper that has served this community in various forms since 1879, the first person headed to the scene was, as usual, the photographer and general manager, Pete Luna. 

Roe v Wade Protest
The Roe Dilemma
Amidst the uproar over the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson that could determine the fate of Roe v. Wade, companies face pressure from competing stakeholders to take a public stand. Whatever position they take—or even if they stay silent—is bound to alienate one or even both sides of this charged debate. Yet, news of the draft decision is just the latest social issue flashpoint in which companies are caught in the crosshairs, with questions, concerns, and demands coming from employees, consumers, investors, elected officials and beyond.
Alaska Airlines’ CEO Just Taught a Master Class in Crisis Communication
Facing a raft of cancellations, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci did something highly unusual–perhaps unprecedented. He sent a video message to all of the airlines’ employees and frequent flyers apologizing for the problem and explaining what the company is doing to fix it. It’s a brilliant piece of crisis communication that every entrepreneur or business leader can learn from.
Social Issues
When Should Corporations Take a Stand on High-Profile Social Issues?
The likely overthrow of Roe v Wade to limit access to abortion in the United States has highlighted whether and when business corporations should take a stand on controversial social issues. Denim company Levi Strauss was one of the first major companies to weigh in on this debate, defining it as “a critical business issue.” 
How Cyberattacks Target Stakeholders
For businesses hit by ransomware attacks, paying the ransom is often the most practical solution to recovering data and minimizing an extremely stressful situation.  However, paying a ransom, which can sometimes range into the millions, is easier said than done. In situations where a ransom isn’t or can’t be paid for a variety of business reasons—such as potential sanctions— organizations need to prepare for the avenues that threat actors will leverage to inflict significant reputational harm.
Nora Jacobs
Nora Jacobs, Hennes Communications Senior VP, is Recipient of PRSA Akron Tom Duke Award
It is with great pride we announce that our colleague, Nora Jacobs, senior vice president of Hennes Communications, was recently awarded the prestigious Tom Duke Public Relations Achievement Award from the Akron Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.  This award celebrates the life and work of the late W. Thomas “Tom” Duke, who passed away in 2017. The Award recognizes and commemorates the achievements of an Akron, Canton, Kent, or Youngstown public relations professional or educator who has demonstrated outstanding service to the public relations industry through professional excellence, accomplished community involvement, and skillful leadership.
Looking for a lunchtime section meeting speaker?

Litigation, probate, environmental, government, bankruptcy, health name the section and we'll put together an interesting, pithy and entertaining meeting for your section via Zoom, talking about the intersection of the law,
legacy media and social media.  

Call Bruce Hennes at 216-978-2047 or email


In Case You Missed It
Mergers, Acquisitions and Management Transitions: Using Crisis Communications Principles to Achieve Better Outcomes 

Fighting Putin's Propaganda: Narrative Response Kit

Who Should Take the Lead in a Crisis?

Cats Sleeping With Dogs: How Lawyers and Crisis Communicators Can Work Together

7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Crisis Communications Firm

Projecting Leadership Presence in a Teleconference

The Six Essential Rules for Lawyers Dealing with Reporters

Lessons in Law Firm Reputation Management: How Firm Leaders Should Prepare for Public Scrutiny When Representing Political Clients

Searchable Archive of Crisis Management and Crisis Communications Articles from Hennes Communications
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Attention School Board Members,
Superintendents & Attorneys

The Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA),
Florida School Boards Association (FSBA) 
and Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) 

have each entered into a strategic partnership with Hennes Communications to provide crisis management and communications services to public school systems throughout those states facing sudden challenges to their organizations’ reputations and operations. With this partnership, ASBA , FSBA and OSBA member school leaders have access 
365 days a year to expert crisis communications professionals.

Media Training

No one trains clients for high-stakes situations better than Hennes Communications. We can teach you, your top executives and managers how to communicate with power, mastering even the toughest interview, speech or presentation.  

Remember, it's usually not what you say, but how you say it.  Never again go into a media interview unprepared, before a hostile audience uncoached or into any situation where it's important for you to project executive presence.

We offer this training in-person or via Zoom and other video platforms.  Call 216-321-7774 for details.



Our Upcoming Speaking Events

6/22     Preparing Public Leaders to Effectively
            Lead in a Crisis, Ohio Public-Private
            Partnership, Ohio Dept. of Public
            Safety, Ohio Dept. of Homeland
            Security, Ohio University, Ohio State

6/23     W. Virginia School Boards Association 
6/29     Lake County Bar Association
7/13     Perkins City School District
7/21     Ohio Municipal Clerks Association
8/4       Greene County Educational Services
Eastern Stark County Safety Council
10/25    Winding River Managing Partner
             Boot Camp

9/1        LeadingAge Ohio 

  Thom Fladung, Bruce Hennes & Stephanie York
10/28    CAK Safety Council
11/8      National Sales & Marketing Exec's.
11/13    Ohio School Boards Association
11/14    Ohio School Boards Association 
12/14    Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Assoc.


3/30      Cleveland Development Corporation
             Leadership Program

4/15      Neighborhood Leadership 
             Development Program

Crisis Leadership
The skill set that got you into your current leadership position
isn't the skill set you're going to need when it hits the fan.

It's a simple fact:

Controversies today are tried in the Court of Public Opinion
more often than the Court of Law.
News now breaks first on social media, with traditional media sweeping Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for leads. Whether your organization is immersed in crisis or dealing with a hot-button issue, your news can quickly “go viral.” Since it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a few seconds to destroy one, “managing the message” is a necessary skill set for executives, attorneys and public officials in virtually every business sector.  

Our fast-paced seminars, delivered by veteran crisis management and communications specialists Bruce Hennes, Thom Fladung and Stephanie York, all focus on highly strategic approaches to communicating during a wide variety of situations, enabling you to serve the needs of your stakeholders, move your message forward or mount a defense against a sudden onslaught from traditional or social media.  Many of our seminars also address "non-crisis" situations (e.g. management changes, mergers & acquisitions, program expansions, presenting with executive presence and creating relationships with members of the media).

If you'd like to bring us in to speak at a conference or to your organization, virtually or in-person, as a keynote, for your practice group, for a section luncheon, as a value-add for your existing clients or as a new business development event, please give us a call at 216-321-7774 or drop us a line at  For a select list of previous seminar sponsors, click here.
Attorney Seminars
  • Crisis Management & Crisis Communications for Attorneys & Their Clients
  • Crisis Communications and Social Media for Attorneys & Public Officials
  • Winning on Social Media: Crisis Management in an Echo Chamber
  • Social Media and the Courts: A New Frontier
  • Getting to the Truth: How to Detect Fake News
  • Tools, Tips & Tactics - Responding to Sensationalized Journalism
  • Projecting Leadership & Executive Presence
Education Seminars
  • Crisis Management & Crisis Communications for Education Officials & Their Attorneys
  • Crisis Communications and Your School in the Social Media Era
  • Crisis Communications For Educators Amid a Pandemic of Crises
  • A Public Schools Social Media Primer: Risks, Rewards & Recognizing Fake News 
  • Projecting Leadership & Executive Presence
Elder Care & Health Care Seminars
  • Crisis Management & Crisis Communications for Health Care Executives & Attorneys
  • Crisis Communications For Health Care Executives Amid a Pandemic of Crises
  • Mergers, Acquisitions & Management Transitions: Using Crisis Communications Principles to Achieve Better Outcomes
  • Projecting Leadership & Executive Presence
Our "signature seminar," Crisis Management & Crisis Communications, can easily be crafted to be relevant to the specific needs of your organization or industry.  For details, please give us a call at the number above.

NOTE:  All of the seminars listed above are typically one-hour long, though some of them lend themselves to a 90-minute or two-hour format.  We also offer a 4-hour seminar that includes "extreme" crisis communications, aimed at elected officials, police and fire chiefs, often done in partnership with local emergency management agencies and boards of health.
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