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 and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.