Conversations in Crisis is a discussion about crisis communications that shares opinions, insights, best practices, and insider details from executives and communications professionals—the people closest to the action. It will serve as a forum for new strategies based on our evolving digital and social media landscape. The blog will also feature concepts from the book that I’m writing on crisis management, Brand Under Fire: Crisis Communications in the Age of Digital.




Request for New Uber CEO

June 27, 2017

Uber's announcement that its much maligned founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was stepping down couldn't come soon enough for many fans of the ride service.  The "toxic culture" he allegedly created and allowed to flourish finally reached a tipping point, largely driven by intense scrutiny from the outside...

In an emergency, your values should serve as your North Star.

June 20, 2017

It’s very important that a company have a clear understanding of its culture before a crisis occurs. We recently led a crisis simulation at a major international corporation. Afterward, the CEO asked if I thought his decisions during the crisis lived up to the culture and the values of the company...

Tiger Woods is in the hazard zone.

June 1, 2017

This week the sports world confronted the news that Tiger Woods was arrested on Memorial Day for driving under the influence. I posted about the golfer’s rebranding effort last year and how the public loves a comeback story. Unfortunately for Tiger, this is not the right brand of déjà vu...

May 25, 2017

The tragic and heartless Manchester bombing that took so many innocent lives reminds us all that terrorism has become almost commonplace around the world. While the attacks have often occurred in public venues, the corporate workplace can also be a target.

ransomware crisis

May 18, 2017

The current global ransomware attack that’s playing havoc with more than 200,000 computers around the world has renewed focus on crisis management strategies for cyberattacks...

Speed Agility Crisis UT

May 5, 2017

The phenomenon of the nanosecond news cycle was on full display this week at The University of Texas at Austin (UT). On Monday campus police received a call regarding a stabbing incident on a busy campus plaza at 1:46 p.m. Reports of the attack, which took the life of a 21-year-old undergraduate and seriously injured three others, went viral on social media immediately. Yet the university did not issue an emergency message for almost half an hour.

United’s Apology—You Need to Get It Right the First Time

April 19, 2017

In my forthcoming book, Brand Under Fire, I describe the 5 elements of an effective apology. After receiving a note via email from United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz, I decided to test the message against my 5 criteria to see whether the latest apology finally gets it right.

United Airlines PR Takeaways

April 12, 2017

This week United Airlines went from an “Escalating Flow of Events” to “Bunker Down” mode in record time. After a tone-deaf response, the company largely went silent as social media blew up...

April 6, 2017

I always advise companies to make sure their communications have the right voice. That is, don’t sound like an overbearing, cold corporation...

Prepare for a response to Slashing Regulation

March 20, 2017

Within banking, oil and gas, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and automakers, among many other industries, there’s an irrational exuberance about the prospect of reduced regulation under the Trump administration.
How to Survive a Political Tweetstorm

March 8, 2017

Thanks to all who tuned in to my Webinar, “How Your Brand Can Weather A Political ‘Tweet Storm.’” If you missed it, the program is available here...

What to do when you've been Trumped: Six Considerations to Survive the "Tweet Storm"

February 22, 2017

After watching the experiences of Nordstrom’s and L.L. Bean, some of my friends and clients have asked about the appropriate response if your brand is embroiled in one of President Trump’s tweets.

Authenticity and Transparency at Baylor

February 13, 2017

I always advise my clients to act with authenticity and transparency in the aftermath of crisis. Baylor University is a great illustration.
VW Scandal Brand Recovery

February 3, 2017

Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in 2016 car sales despite its diesel emissions cheating scandal. Not many analysts were predicting this turn of events when the ugly narrative came to light. VW’s successful performance was influenced by three factors...
First Things To Do In A Crisis

January 31, 2017

When a crisis strikes, how you respond can be just as important as the crisis itself. A quick response that reflects your authenticity and transparency will help you build trust and establish the narrative. Here are the 10 first steps to take in a crisis situation.
Five Key Principles for Effective Crisis Management

January 13, 2017

From major product recalls, to a tsunami-triggered nuclear meltdown, to Penn State’s damaged reputation nightmare, we’ve reached a crisis management tipping point that is driven by digital and social media.

December 12, 2016

Two weeks ago another earthquake and tsunami hit Fukushima, Japan...

November 29, 2016

The death of Fidel Castro has brought a range of reactions from people around the world...

November 22, 2016

The folks at Newman's Own, the company founded by the late actor Paul Newman, recently discovered some interesting insights about the brand...

October 31, 2016

United Airlines made a strategic hire recently—Chief Storyteller...

October 20, 2016

Tiger Woods is planning to rejoin the professional golf tour in December after being sidelined with injuries...

October 12, 2016

Samsung decided to bench the Galaxy Note 7 this week rather than risk a potential strike three with consumers...

September 22, 2016

Barely a year after the listeria outbreak at Blue Bell Creameries that caused three fatalities, the company is again dealing with product contamination...

September 14, 2016

Recent headlines describing how Samsung Galaxy phones burned a six-year-old child and ignited a Jeep are reminiscent of a 2006 product recall by Dell...

August 26, 2016

Can the competing perspectives of PR pros and lawyers be reconciled? An assessment by Bill Feldman.

August 24, 2016

With the official close of the 2016 Olympics Sunday evening, it is now abundantly clear that this year’s games will be best remembered not only for the achievements of such medalists as Simone Biles and Usain Bolt, but also for the misguided adventures of a small group of U.S. swimmers, but most notably by the actions of one man: Ryan Lochte...

August 18, 2016

Ed Block, a legend in public relations, died this week at age 89...

August 10, 2016

I am no fan of airline delays, but as someone who spends about 60 percent of my time traveling, I have come to learn that not all delays are created equal...

August 3, 2016

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote,"There are no second acts in American lives..."

July 28, 2016

It's been 20 years since the bombing at the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta...

July 26, 2016

Last week’s indictment of former defensive end Shawn Oakman on charges of felony sexual assault is yet another symptom of ongoing problems in intercollegiate athletics at Baylor...

July 19, 2016

Hosting the Olympics spotlights more than athletic competition...

July 12, 2016

Dave Samson, General Manager of Public Affairs at Chevron and president of the Arthur W. Page Society, shares insights on mobile technology and its role in crisis management...

July 7, 2016

June was an interesting month for some of my former sports clients...

June 28, 2016

Increasingly in the digital world, companies can create their own media outlets...

June 16, 2016

This week I’m sharing excerpts from an interview with Dave Samson, General Manager of Public Affairs at Chevron Corporation...

June 13, 2016

I applaud SeaWorld's new campaign and the fundamental changes the company has embraced...

June 9, 2016

We are raised from childhood hearing stories. As a result, there is a natural inclination to cast the characters in every story in one of several roles...

May 31, 2016

The headline in The New York Times opinion section: “How Austin Beat Uber.”

May 26, 2016

Last week The Wall Street Journal reinforced my observation about Cuba’s readiness to establish trade with the United States...

May 20, 2016

In this video with Adam Bauer of Wells Fargo, he and I talk crisis management...

May 17, 2016

When Mike Webb, conservative candidate for United States Congress in Virginia’s 8th District, decided to screen shot a post from his campaign Facebook page last night...

May 13, 2016

In my interview with Naomi Hirose, president of TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.), he shares lessons learned from the earthquake...

May 9, 2016

The first U.S. cruise ship in nearly 40 years docked in Havana harbor on May 2. I happened to be in Cuba a few days earlier, and I came away with two key observations.

April 29, 2016

I was proud of my alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, when recently it was forced to deal with the first homicide on campus in nearly 50 years. In April, Haruka Weiser...

April 29, 2016

With the launch of Conversations in Crisis, I want to start a conversation about crisis communications, and I hope you will join me. My goal is to share opinions, insights, best practices, and insider details from executives and communications professionals, the people closest to the action.