CapU Communications Visit – PR Crisis and Issues Management

I was recently asked to share whatever wisdom I can excavate from 20 odd years of PR crisis and issues management with a group of 3rd-year communications students at CapU.  I enjoy working with communications and public relations students. As was I, they’re usually starving for real world experience and real world stories.  I suspect it’s partly because they’re looking forward to finishing school and getting on with it, and partly because they want to validate what they’re learning—make sure it’s going to prepare them for the ‘outside’.

Of course, the same enthusiasm for sharing and connecting applies to any communications professional:  put us together in a room (preferably with wine, thank you) and the conversation inevitably leads to war stories, proud successes and our latest breakthrough realization or discovery.  We share. We tell stories. The classroom just formalized an organic process.

Of course, a lot of what we do is confidential.  Our clients trust us with their secrets and reputations, and that covenant can never be broken. But that doesn’t preclude us from sharing principles and practices or new technologies that have helped us navigate the always unique labyrinth that creates a crisis. And that sharing benefits our clients, and other communicators.

I was impressed by the CapU group.  They had interesting and provocative questions that gave me pause and made me work for my bottled water.  What do you do if no one on the executive team can stay on message?  When would you turn down a client for ethical reasons? How do you handle social media brand bullies – or should you?

I’m going to speculate that future CEOs and Communications leads will be in good hands with these advisors.  And more than few of the young minds I encountered will go on to be CEOs or VP Communications.  The next generation awaits the spotlight.

If you’re interested, here’s my presentation.  I had a blast.

Crisis Best Practices from the Frontline.February 2014