Stories by Deborah Hileman


Maui Fires Should Prompt Drills, Updates to Your Crisis Communication Plan

August 15th, 2023 by

Whenever a large-scale natural disaster strikes, the response is criticized as too little, too late, ill-prepared or inadequate. As we watch the devastation of the Maui fires, we see climate change is impacting when, where and how significantly natural disasters will threaten life and property.

Two humans head silhouette psycho therapy concept. Therapist and patient. Vector illustration for psychologist blog or social media post.

When ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ are Not Enough: Why it’s Time to Humanize Crisis Statements

May 8th, 2023 by

Emotions are raw in a crisis, and even well-meaning but standard statements can be misinterpreted by victims and other stakeholders. Don’t create additional issues by failing to give these communications the attention they deserve.

pink slip

Understand Optics and Adjust Strategy Before Announcing Layoffs

February 17th, 2023 by

There continues to be a spate of layoffs across multiple industries. Navigating the optics of delivering bad news and how stakeholders perceive it is critical to protecting reputation.

Zuckerberg, Musk and Layoffs: How to and How Not to Deliver Bad News

November 14th, 2022 by

Conducting a large layoff is a challenge many executives may face. But delivering this news need not result in a reputation crisis. 

Don’t Feed the Trolls: Lessons about Online Criticism

August 15th, 2022 by

We cannot view social media as nothing more than a sandbox for Gens Y and Z. Instead, embrace how media technology has changed the company-customer dynamic. Once you do, start adapting strategy to leverage changes and build respect and resilience in the face of criticism.

Answer These Questions Before Taking a Public Position on Social Issues

May 17th, 2022 by

There is no shortage of PR pros and pundits offering advice about how companies should respond to controversial social issues. Company executives ask whether or not to take a public position. If so, should they speak proactively or only in response to media inquiries? Or, should they discuss an issue internally only, with employees?

Crisis Mitigation: A Two-Way Street for CEOs and PR Pros

February 15th, 2022 by

PR executives, collaborating with risk management, HR and other key functions, can play a critical role in identifying and recommending action to address external and internal threats (including toxic people). Unfortunately, organizations routinely underfund communication and related positions that can deliver intel that helps executives make better-informed decisions before they create a reputation crisis.

The Crisis Lessons of 2021: Truth, Empathy and Promptnesss

December 21st, 2021 by

We expected good things from 2021. Instead, it delivered large doses of frustrating virus protocols, political turmoil, mistrust, disinformation and reputation gaffes. Classic PR blunders generated headlines when leaders failed to learn from history. Here are a few cautionary tales as we look to 2022.

Crisis Leaders Need Emotional Intelligence

November 16th, 2021 by

Reading McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski’s ill-conceived comments about recent shooting deaths of two children in Chicago (including one in a McDonald’s drive-thru) prompted out contributor to write about the Emotional Intelligence Quotient, or EQ.

Attack, Deny or Accept? Facebook Pondering Best Path in New Crisis

October 19th, 2021 by

Like many social media platforms, Facebook is no stranger to reputation crises. How Facebook and other companies have managed them offers lessons in how to (and not to) address stakeholder concerns and shore up reputation when the proverbial excrement has collided with the rotating blades.