Crisis Counselors

No matter the industry, your brand is likely to face some form of PR crisis at one time or another. Surround yourself with the right people, and you stand a far greater chance of riding the wave and surviving the damage. One strategy for ensuring this is hiring a crisis and reputation management consultant, or perhaps an entire team.

Crisis and reputation management is not without its controversy in the PR world, and stories abound of second-guessing critiques and head-scratching behavior in general. To avoid getting yourself in hotter water with a bad crisis management fit, we’ve collated a list of questions that may help brands and organizations to separate the chaff from the wheat.

  1. How many war rooms have you personally led in crisis cases? Will those clients validate your claims?
  2. Do you have clients that can vouch for your approach to leadership in a crisis, and would they be willing to provide a reference?
  3. Can you give a sense of the size of crises that you’ve managed, and how they relate to the size of the challenges our brand or organization may face?
  4. Can you provide examples of how well you understand the issues and potential crises that threaten our business’ or industry’s reputation?
  5. How engaged are you as a senior specialist in our case, and how much work is delegated to your more junior staff?
  6. Can you provide further details about the experience and training your staff have received in handling PR crises?
  7. What will be your approach if our brand disagrees with your counsel? Are you comfortable playing the role of devil’s advocate?
  8. Are you a seasoned debater, comfortable with negotiating with our legal or compliance teams?
  9. How many long term crisis support clients have you had?
  10. What is our confidentiality agreement? Can you assure our brand that our current, or any upcoming crises will not feature in a book chapter, speech, seminar or blog post to be one day produced by you or your team?
  11. What is your working understanding of crisis management disciplines beyond basic reputation management? How proficient are you in the language of emergency management, risk management, business resilience, and continuity? How well do you understand the ways in which these disparate disciplines must work together to succeed in reputation management?
  12. What are some of your thoughts on contemporary crisis management? Do you think current industry trends differ from the way crises were managed five, ten or even twenty years ago?
  13. If we hire you, do you think you will hold all the answers to our problems? Note: if the answer from your potential crisis management team is “yes”, you might want to look elsewhere.

Ultimately, choosing the right crisis management team to be alongside you in your brand’s toughest hours should be treated as an integral part of your overall marketing strategy. With these questions in hand, you can be confident that your brand or organization will be better equipped to seek out the right crisis-counseling experts to help you ride out this wave.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.