Crisis Communications


Boardroom Communications’ Executive Vice President Todd Templin recently gave a presentation on crisis communications to the South Florida chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America. Templin joined Kelley Kronenberg law partner Christy Brigman, who spoke about what contractors can do to protect their legal rights in the event of a major accident or other crisis.

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Speaking to risk managers and safety experts from some of the top construction companies in South Florida, Templin emphasized the need for companies to create a crisis communications plan and to review it on a regular basis.

He also spoke about some of the elements that should go into a plan such as: identifying risk areas that could lead to negative media exposure, assigning a communications team that can formulate media responses, assigning a media spokesperson who should  get media training ahead of time, creating a solid media list and developing  a social media plan to communicate your messages directly with the public and other stakeholders.


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by Julie Talenfeld

It’s been a big week for bold steps by large corporations – and compelling case studies for South Florida P.R. firms, business owners and social media savvy companies.  First, the week the Sochi Games are to begin, Olympic sponsor AT&T went public denouncing Russia’s laws against homosexuality. The company, which is not sponsoring the winter games, but sponsors the U.S. Olympic Committee, urged others to follow suit. Then, less than 24 hours later, CVS announced it would stop selling tobacco later this year. Both face potential economic, public-opinion and crisis communication fall out  from their decisions. Both said, ‘So what…?’

“Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose,” wrote Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, in a press release. The company took the message to social media, too. Its Facebook includes a cigarette with the red slash.

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By Julie Talenfeld

We recently posted about the impact of social media on brands and business. But what lessons are there to be learned?

In the last few weeks, the new media marketing world exploded like a cache of shotguns at a hunting range when two episodes revealed the growing power and influence of social media. The marketing and crisis communications lessons for South Florida marketing executives at Fort Lauderdale law firms, Boca Raton retailers or Miami Beach condominium sales teams abound – if we all listen for the call.

First, Phil Robertson from A&E reality show, Duck Dynasty, was quoted making inflammatory comments about gays and African Americans in the upcoming January issue of GQ magazine. Everyone from activists to pundits to producers at A&E and even retailer Cracker Barrel reacted with knee-jerk speed.

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By Julie Talenfeld

It’s amazing the damage a duck can do. Or a poorly conceived tweet or social media post. Or a message carried around the world seemingly in less time than it takes a flight attendant to say, “Return your seat backs and tray tables to their upright and locked positions.”

The last two weeks have presented several examples of the power of social media.

First, the social media universe exploded like a cache of shotguns at a hunting range when Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the phenomenally successful A&E reality show, Duck Dynasty, was quoted making inflammatory comments about gays and African Americans in the upcoming January issue of GQ magazine. Activists charged him with being insensitive. Pundits claimed his First Amendment rights were being trampled. A&E, scared his flock would fly to rival show Swamp People, pulled the trigger on a minimalist response – shelving Robertson (albeit while the show was on a seasonal hiatus).

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By Julie Talenfeld

How Important Is Media Training in Your Leadership Skills Toolbox? Post a Comment or Visit Our Facebook

Image Courtesy TMT WorldwideAs a Fort Lauderdale public relations firm, we see the scenario play out all the time. The CEO of a Fort Lauderdale bank, managing partner of a Miami law firm, or principal of a Boca Raton retailer gets a call from the media. The reporter may want to include the executive in a positive feature story, or he or she may be calling about a crime with which the business, employee or fellow executive has been involved. Either way, how should the executive respond?

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By Julie Talenfeld

As a South Florida law firm or accounting firm, retailer or other business, what’s the biggest strategic risk you face? The economy? Competition? What about your reputation? You may already have a public relations firm on board, but a new national study finds most executives believe threats to their reputation are the most grave strategic risk they face.

The study, from Deloitte, found that reputational damage is considered the leading strategic risk for executives with large companies. This is up from third place among strategic risks feared by executives in 2010, according to the study.

How can your company help mitigate risks to its reputation? It starts with a reputation management plan. This can include…

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By Donald Silver

In 2008, the SEC filed a suit against billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, claiming that Cuban violated federal securities laws in 2004 when he sold his entire stake in a Canadian Internet search company.

The case was dismissed in 2009, but a U.S. appeals court reversed that ruling, and the case became a jury trial that started earlier this week in Dallas.

Cuban was the biggest stockholder of Montreal-based Mamma.com, holding 6.3 percent of its shares. In a June 2004 phone conversation, Mamma.com then-Chief Executive Officer Guy Faure allegedly told Cuban he had confidential information for him and asked if he was interested in participating in a new offering that diluted the company’s shares by 8.5 percent. Near the end of the conversation, Cuban allegedly told Faure, “Now I’m screwed. I can’t sell.”

Shortly after that call, Cuban called his broker and told him to sell all his shares.

The next day Cuban’s broker sold all the shares, and Cuban avoided a $750,000 loss, according to the SEC.

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USAToday ran a story this week about a Montana Democrat U.S. Senate candidate who reportedly Liked a Facebook page featuring images of women’s cleavage. To public relations crisis communications management firms, it wasn’t exactly the same as the married politician Anthony Weiner sexting images of his genitals to strange women. But the news drew the attention of media – and opponents seeking an edge.

Why mention this in a blog about social media, public relations and crisis communications? Because in the news were signs of peril – and opportunity. There’s peril for people who have fierce rivals in the marketplace – rivals who may stop at nothing to bring harm to one’s reputation. And there’s opportunity for publicity savvy marketers poised to seize on the media exposure borne of such events.

First, the perils. Many of us – more than a billion worldwide – are Facebook subscribers. Some of us even have Fan or Corporate paes for our companies or professional pursuits. We Friend and Like the people we know and things we like, and encourage others to do the same with us.

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By Don Silver

From an inappropriate employee post on Twitter, to a negative customer comment on Facebook, to a video posted by a disgruntled employee onto YouTube, in today’s 24/7 world of social media, there are more ways than ever for an organization to be blindsided by a social media crisis.

Your best defense if to have a good offense – in this case, creating a strong Social Media Crisis Communications Plan.

Pre-Plan:

In addition to a great Social Media Crisis Communications Plan, you’ll want to do everything you can to prevent a crisis from occurring.

Here are some ways to do that:

1. Create a Social Media Policy and train all of your employees. This will prevent many employee-related crises from occurring.

2. Monitor online conversations about your company. At a minimum, use Google Alerts, which are free. There are literally hundreds of other apps and services that will monitor your online conversations, or you can outsource this function.

How to create a Social Media Crisis Communications Plan:

1. Put a “Crisis” Team in place who will be gathered together as soon as a crisis is identified. The Crisis team usually includes key executives, legal, and the social media communications contact.

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By Julie Talenfeld, President

What if your company saw executives and employees departing – and in the process, publicly raising serious concerns about your management style? Should that matter to you or your business? It should, if you care about community relations and your company’s public persona.

I thought about this after reading the New York Times story about Jennifer J. Raab (pictured above with attorney and academic Anita Hill), president of the prestigious and successful Hunter College in New York City. Though she’s overseen record fundraising and growth at the school, some departing officials there – including top deans and executives – blasted her management style as one of “a culture of fear and mistrust.”

New York City may be 1,300 miles from South Florida. But the marketing communications and public relations message should be clear. Regardless of whether you own, run or manage a Fort Lauderdale medical practice, a Miami law firm or a Boca Raton retailer, your management style can polish – or blemish – your brand and leave you with a reputation management crisis.

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