News Media Articles

"Coping with Catastrophe: Crisis Management Becomes the New Corporate Discipline"

TIME Magazine excerpt by Barbara Rudolph

"Says Steven Fink, president of Los Angeles-based Lexicon Communications and author of...Crisis Management: Planning for the Inevitable: 'Companies are beginning to realize that what happens to a Union Carbide can happen to them, whether they're big or small, publicly traded or privately held.' It is the element of surprise that is most unsettling to executives confronted by sudden catastrophe. Says Fink: 'The savviest chief executive in the world often falls victim to a kind of paralysis when a crisis strikes.'

"When the fifth floor of a high-rise office tower under construction in Los Angeles collapsed...killing three people, the general contractor...was besieged: 'People were banging on our doors. We didn't know where to turn. No one was prepared to address the problem.' The company hired Lexicon Communications, which organized a team of safety engineers and (company) executives to assess the possible causes of the collapse."

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"Carnival Fails Crisis 101 in Costa Response"

FOX Business News excerpt by Jennifer Booton

"Carnival has had 'plenty of opportunities to get [its] crisis management house in order' but hasn't done 'anything at all,'  according to Steven Fink."

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"News Corp: Beware the Knee-Jerk Crisis Response"
Fortune excerpt by Shelley DuBois

"Shuttering the paper abruptly might not rid the company of the problems it's trying to solve. 'They're trying to bury the body along with the smoking gun, and you just don't do that if you're managing a crisis properly,' Fink says."

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"Learning from Exxon: Prepare for Crisis, It's Part of Business"
The New York Times Excerpt:

By Steven Fink

"(T)hose who say Mr. Rawl (chairman of Exxon) should have gone to faraway Valdez just because 'it is the thing to do in these types of crises' are overly concerned with symbolism and naive about the exigencies of crisis communications and management.... From my own experience working on the crisis management team at Three Mile Island, I have learned that there are certainly times when a chief executive needs to be at the scene of a crisis. But a chief executive must think twice about entering a hostile environment just to serve the interests of photojournalists. While it is vital for an executive to consider how a story plays in the media, in a war generals manage the battle, not the reconnaissance."

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'The Barclays school of crisis management"
Fortune Excerpt:

by Shelley DuBois

"The threat of losing money from further civil litigation and losing the good will of the public are serious issues for these banks, Fink says. But, as for firing a couple of executives, 'That's only window dressing. If the problem is systemic, and I'm not saying it is, but just getting rid of one or two people doesn't solve the problem.'"

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"Dow Corning's Moral Evasions"
The New York Times Excerpt:

By Steven Fink

"The Dow Corning Corporation revealed itself last week as a company adrift without a moral compass. It finally released memos showing that for two decades it had known silicone can leak from its gel breast implants into some women's bodies.... But putting truth on the bench to be called on only if deception strikes out is a crisis management error of potentially lethal proportions.... Crisis management is a well-traveled path with clear trail markings. Dow Corning should have been able to follow it."

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"Pat & Oscar's Tries Breadstick Diplomacy"
San Diego Union-Tribune Excerpt:

By Rachel Laing

"Pat & Oscar's parent company, Worldwide Restaurant Concepts, enlisted Steven Fink, President of Los Angeles-based Lexicon Communications, a crisis management firm.  The firm has particular expertise in food-borne illness; it handled the last major E-coli contamination in San Diego County -- the Jack in the Box outbreak that sickened hundreds of people and killed four children a decade ago.  When Fink met with Pat & Oscar's executives, [the agreement was]: Don't let the lawyers run the show. In other words, don't let the fear of litigation shut down communication with the public or prevent the company from taking responsibility for the incident....

"Fink kept open the lines of communication to the media to get out the message that Pat & Oscar's had isolated the cause of the problem and corrected it.  In addition to changing its lettuce supplier, the company instituted its own lettuce-washing procedure as an added precaution. Camera crews from local TV stations were invited into the kitchens of the restaurant to film the procedure.

"Most importantly, the message that the company was not to blame for the outbreak was repeated over and over."

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"Can Taco Bell Win Back Its Customers?"
TIME Magazine, Excerpt:

By Tracy Samantha Schmidt

"Taco Bell may have also confused the public by closing and then reopening restaurants, even though the source of the contamination is still unknown. 'Some would say that was a sign of being proactive: closing the store in order to protect the consumer,' says Steven Fink, president of Lexicon Communications Corp, the nation's oldest crisis management firm. 'But then Taco Bell reopened the stores and nothing had changed. Why did they close the stores and then reopen them? That sends a mixed signal that the company doesn't have a handle on what's going on.'"

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"Taco Bell Launches 'Food Is Safe' PR Campaign"
Advertising Age Excerpt:

By Kate Macarthur

"According to Steven B. Fink, president of Lexicon Communications Corp., which handled E. coli crises for Jack in the Box and West Coast chain Pat & Oscar's, the company has been smart in putting its president on the front line of the problem. But his reassurances about food safety in Taco Bell ads could be undermined by the company's inability to pinpoint the cause of the illnesses."

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"Spotlight on Crisis PR Firms"
Los Angeles Business Journal Excerpt:

By James Nash 

"When nearly 40 people fell ill from suspected E. coli exposure from eating at Pat & Oscar's restaurants in 2003, the restaurant chain's owners did more than apologize.  They quickly severed ties with the supplier of the allegedly tainted lettuce. They set up a toll-free phone number for patrons who feared poisoning. And over the course of a weekend, they gave out more than $500,000 in free food to lure skittish customers back.

"Worldwide Restaurant Concepts Inc., the Sherman Oaks-based owner of Pat & Oscar’s, didn’t come up with those ideas on its own. It turned to one of a growing number of crisis-management specialists in Southern California: Pasadena-based Lexicon Communications Corp.

"Lexicon occupies a growing niche within the public relations industry: helping companies defuse potential crises."

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"Wendy's Tries to Undo Harm from Chili Claim"
Chicago Tribune Excerpt:

By John Schmeltzer

"There are things they should have done to keep people coming back to the restaurants," said Steven Fink, president of Lexicon Communications Corp. in Pasadena, Calif.

"And they failed to take any steps to assure their customers that it was safe to eat at Wendy's," said Fink.

"In the pitched battle between perception and reality, perception always wins. The perception was it was not safe to eat at Wendy's. Giving away milkshakes and coupons does not tell people Wendy's is a safe place to eat," he said.

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Where Wendy's Went Wrong: Critical Lessons in Crisis Management
Franchise Times Excerpt:

By Steven Fink

"As someone who has managed crises for clients in all fields – including fast food restaurants and other food industry clients – for more than two decades, I observed Wendy’s crisis management efforts with professional interest.  After Wendy’s skillfully navigated the first, usually treacherous 24 or so hours, I was prepared to see the company skillfully and successfully manage the crisis. 

 "But then the company suffered a brain cramp, and it was all downhill from there.  Wendy’s seemed to have run out of ideas of what to do next, which is astonishing when you consider how many other successfully handled crises there are to learn from – including some well-known hoax crises – in the food industry.  Crisis Management by now is a well-documented road map, but Wendy’s executives never opened the map.   

"Worse, they completely lost sight of the actual crisis." 

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"Los Alamos Contract Puts UC in PR Battle"
Sunday San Francisco Chronicle Excerpt:

By Keay Davidson

"'In the pitched battle between perception and reality, perception always wins,' warns Steven Fink, a crisis management adviser to numerous corporations struggling to repair damaged reputations. He pointed out that, in this competition, UC has both advantages and disadvantages -- advantages in the sense that it has run Los Alamos for six decades, and disadvantages in the sense that in recent years, it acquired the reputation, fairly or unfairly, of having badly fumbled that mission.

"Can UC repair its reputation in time to win the next Los Alamos contract? Fink, who has no connection with the competition, suggested possible ways that it can.

"Crucially, the University of California 'needs to demonstrate conclusively that it would do a better job -- despite the (scandal) baggage -- in managing this contract than its competitors,' said Fink, author of Crisis Management: Planning for the Inevitableand president of Lexicon Communications Corp. in Los Angeles, billed as 'the nation's oldest and most experienced crisis management firm.'"

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"How To Plan For Potential Corporate Crises"
Investor's Daily Excerpt:

By Alexa Bell

"Fink teaches companies to avoid (crises) by recognizing danger signs and taking action early on. Companies should be on the alert, he said, for situations that will:

Escalate in intensity.
Gain unwarranted attention from outsiders, such as the media or government.
Interfere with normal business operations.
Jeopardize the positive public image of the company or its officers.
Damage a company's bottom line in any way."

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Dealing With the News Media During a Crisis
Franchise Times Excerpt:

By Steven Fink

"One of the most difficult aspects of properly handling a media-driven crisis in the franchise industry is knowing how to respond when multiple interests are at stake. The frustration for a multi-unit franchisee escalates when, for example, a crisis affects one specific unit half-way across the country, but the news media treat the brand name in such a cavalier manner that your customers think the crisis is affecting all other units in the chain."

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Courting Disaster
California Grocer Excerpt:

by Len Lewis

"While the events of September 11 brought the issue of crisis management to the forefront, so did the non-violent but devastating impact of the financial and accounting scandals surrounding Enron, Arthur Anderson, Global Crossing and Martha Stewart. But whether crises are man-made or natural the one common denominator is the need for advance thinking."

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Dealing With Crisis
Business Platinum Ventures Excerpt:

"Let people know as quickly and openly as possible what is going on.  Those affected by the crisis will appreciate forthrightness and resent anything they take as an evasion.  Obviously, you want to share everything you know with government authorities and those affected.  Keep other customers and your staff fully informed as well.  Keep the message simple, direct, and honest."

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