In early November, Porter Novelli’s Southern California team co-hosted a Crisis Communications Workshop alongside the Public Relations Society of America’s Los Angeles chapter. Our SoCal Managing Director Strahan Wallis moderated conversations throughout the morning between crisis experts from Disney, Ford, Chipotle, Los Angeles Police Department, PN’s Global Head of Reputation Sean Smith, and others.
Designed to educate PR professionals of all levels how to better handle the different stages of a crisis, the conversations were organized around what to do before, during, and after a crisis.
The wide-ranging discussion included candid and revealing examinations of Chipotle’s food safety issues from 2015, the #MeToo movement and the drought crisis that affected the Almond Board of California.
Despite the diverse backgrounds and industries represented among the participants, there was a lot of agreement on the overall approach and tactics that are necessary to deploy when it comes to protecting a brand’s reputation.
“It was fascinating to be onstage with such masters of the trade,” said Strahan. “The insights were incredible, yet it was validating to hear all of these experts echoing what PN says about the importance of preparation, stakeholder relations, training and simulations, connecting with audiences on an emotional level, and the importance of transparency and integrity.”
Sean’s key takeaway was similar. “The best part of the panel for me was the consensus among the participants that companies need to focus on their actions and behaviors if they want to build up the kind of goodwill that is necessary to withstand a crisis or to recover from one. We’ve been saying that for a while at PN, and now we’re articulating something even bolder: if you want to establish a bullet proof, enduring reputation, you need to stand for something and lead. When you do that in an authentic and creative way, consumers will reward you. Your reputation will be enhanced, and your business will grow.”