We have always helped clients prepare for the risk of terrorism when putting together crisis management plans, but terrorism has been redefined in the wake of September 11th, Tokyo, London, Paris, Belgium, San Bernadino and so many other, tragic world events. Now, our proactive threat assessment services also include assessment of physical threats to personnel, office buildings, plant facilities and parking garages, as well as added security measures that may be required for actual safety as well as peace of mind. We partner with some of the nation's finest experts in their respective areas of specialization, all working under our comprehensive crisis management umbrella.
Our educational and crisis communications programs also include proper communications to employees and other relevant constituencies about changes in security that may affect them.
While we agree with the U.S. government's oft-repeated statement that we should all resume our normal lives, we and our clients understand that there is a "new normalcy" in the land, and changes in how we conduct business are required before we can get back to "normal."
Threat assessment is part of that process.
Lexicon Communications offers full support in crisis-related litigation.
Often, a company's actions, or non-actions, are central to litigation. Juries are asked to ponder questions of possible guilt and innocence, as well as compensatory and punitive awards, based on their understanding of a company's response during a crisis. However, management's actions need to be evaluated in the larger context of the intense stress intrinsic to an escalating crisis.
In short, it is not always accurate to judge a company's or management's actions during a crisis against the standard of customary management practices in a normal business environment. For example, decisions which may seem to be wrong in retrospect may be shown to be defensible decisions made "in the heat of battle." Juries may be beneficially enlightened when such information is explained by recognized experts in the field of crisis management.
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Additionally, we often work with attorneys in reviewing cases and depositions in order to detect areas of crisis management flaws which opposing counsel might exploit. In so doing, we often are able to suggest counter strategies designed to blunt such weaknesses. We also work closely with attorneys to develop trial themes that will resonate well with juries and key constituencies.
Over the years, we have provided crisis management-related litigation support, expert testimony and litigation strategies for numerous clients and situations, including:
- Jack in the Box (E. coli bacteria outbreak/contaminated hamburgers/fatalities/wrongful death)
- Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (the infamous Exxon Valdez Alaska oil spill)
- Avery Dennison (international economic espionage; global environmental issues)
- Southland Corporation/7-Eleven (price-gouging during natural disaster)
- Northrop Corp. (whistle-blower/U.S. Justice Department fraud prosecution)
- Armor All Products Corp. (whistle-blower/product safety; false advertising)
- Jewel Food (nation's largest outbreak of salmonella food poisonings)
- Synthetic Industries (class action suits/product liability; false advertising)
- American Ambulance (criminal investigations by FBI, U.S. Attorney, IRS, FPPC)
- Real Property Management/Marina del Rey property portfolio (bankruptcy)
- Donnelley Directory, Dun & Bradstreet division (anti-trust action; business closures)
- Labatt Breweries/Miller Brewing (trademark infringement)
- 7-Up/Dr. Pepper (product liability)
- Swinerton & Walberg (catastrophic loss/high-rise building collapse; fatalities/wrongful death)
- Brinderson Real Estate and Construction (RICO charges)
- The Carl N. Karcher Trust/Carl's Jr. (Board of Directors fight)
- Otis Elevator (fatality/wrongful death litigation)
- Casa de las Campanas (construction litigation)
- Hemet Valley Hospital District (wrongful death claim)
- Western Federal Savings & Loan Association (RTC takeover)
- Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Loans.Net (theft of trade secrets)
- Natural Balance Pet Foods (pet food contamination poisonings/death of pets)
- YUM Brands, China (food supply issues)
The world today requires company leaders to be ready, willing and able to meet the press. And because so many news media outlets rely on global, satellite communications with never-ending 'round-the-clock deadlines, company management must be prepared to meet the press almost on a moment's notice.
A company that refuses to speak with the media is usually viewed as having something to hide. And a company that sends an unprepared spokesperson into the fray may do even more damage. Saying the wrong thing to the media can be devastating. But, if you think you can get off by glibly saying "No comment," be forewarned: We inform our clients that "no comment" is an old Latin phrase that loosely translated means "guilty as charged."
The media training programs of Lexicon Communications prepare CEOs and other senior management who may be called upon to serve as company spokespersons for dealing with print and broadcast media in general, and a hostile, crisis-driven media in particular. All training programs are tailored for clients according to a company's specific needs and issues, and training sessions are done individually or in small groups.
The primary goals of our media training programs are to teach individuals who may be called upon to speak to the media one day such essentials as:
How to give media interviews and be comfortable in the process;
How to get key message points across in an interview so they are heard or read by viewers, listeners or readers;
How to defend tough, unpopular positions;
How to handle hostile reporters;
How to recognize and effectively sidestep negatively-charged questions;
How to effectively turn negative questions into positive responses;
How to use the interview process to your advantage;
And why there really is no such thing as "off the record."
Crisis Post Mortem
So, your crisis is now over. How did you do? How do you think you did? How do others think you did?
Did your crisis management team rise to the challenge? Did they and the rest of your company perform well under pressure, under fire, under crisis conditions?
How did your rank and file employees handle it? Did morale plummet? Were employees routinely well informed by management of critical events in a timely fashion, or did loyal workers and their families discover shocking news and accusations about their company while reading the morning newspaper at breakfast?
Were you mistreated and misquoted by the news media? Could you have communicated better with reporters, employees, customers, shareholders, regulators, and others?
How did Wall Street treat you?
How long did it take for the first lawsuit to land on your doorstep?
Most importantly, what changes would you make the next time it happens?
Over the years, Lexicon Communications has conducted objective, vital and illuminating crisis post mortem sessions, designed to probe the actions and reactions of a crisis-company's management team. The purpose is to find out what worked and what didn't during a crisis, and make non-finger-pointing recommendations for future improvement.
The biggest mistake a company can make after a crisis is to assume "it's over." It's not. There will be other crises; you will be tested again. It's inevitable.
Forward thinking companies use the time immediately after a crisis to learn from their mistakes, as well as their successes.
Could you -- should you -- have done better? We'll give you our learned opinion in a confidential, closed door, crisis post mortem session.
Private CEO Sessions
There are often nagging moments of self-doubt following a crisis when a CEO has no place to turn for answers. It is quite normal for a CEO who has been through a crisis to question some of his or her own judgments or decisions. Did he do the right things? Should she have reacted sooner?
This is often a time of reflection, but it is one that needs experienced answers before healthy questions turn into long-term, debilitating self-doubt, inner questioning and loss of confidence.
The senior management of Lexicon Communications offers private sessions with CEOs to explore some unanswered questions that usually linger after a crisis. Often these are questions that can't be posed to subordinates for a variety of reasons.
It is important to speak with someone knowledgeable who is objective in his appraisal and advice, drawn from 30+ years of worldwide, battled-tested experience through some of the most celebrated crises.
These CEO sessions are private, confidential conversations behind closed doors. No subordinates, no lawyers, no regulators, no reporters. Just CEO-to-CEO. It is your chance to ask questions of one of the nation's most experienced crisis managers.
And, get candid answers that may help you sleep better at night.
Special Circumstance Capabilities
Over the years, we have been retained by some of the nation's most well-known businesses and corporations to provide crucial communications counsel and implementation in areas of extreme urgency and sensitivity.
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Time and again, our firm has delivered consistent, reliable and effective communications support aimed at presenting our clients' positions to:
- National print and broadcast
- Consumer/general interest
Shareholders/investors/investment banking firms
Elected and appointed local, state and federal government officials
Special interest groups
We have the capability to provide senior-level counseling as well as full-service implementation and support. Working closely on an ongoing basis with a client's legal and financial advisors, we ensure a communications strategy that anticipates and plans for all possible contingencies.
Our highly focused and centralized approach to the broad dissemination of communications ensures a consistent and coordinated set of key message points which resonate clearly and consistently before all critical audiences.
We are especially skilled at handling media-intensive situations for clients. Our vast experience with the media helps obtain for our clients a fair and accurate portrayal in the press. Moreover, our communications strategies are designed so that management's actions across the board are well understood and presented in a balanced, if not positive, environment.
This is especially true in certain product liability and recall issues, where it is imperative to communicate that management is acting at all times to protect the health and safety of its consumers; in bankruptcy situations, where rumors of possible liquidation, as opposed to re-organization, may be a factor; and in potentially volatile labor relations matters, where it is imperative to calmly and effectively communicate management's positions to a suspicious and perhaps hostile workforce. In such sensitive situations, where stakes and tempers can be particularly high, employees, creditors, suppliers, investors, shareholders -- as well as the news media -- all require special-handling communications to retain long-term loyalty, confidence and credibility through uncertain or difficult times.
Environmental Affairs and EHS Capabilities
Throughout the world, businesses, regardless of size, continue to face the most stringent and complex environmental rules and regulations in history.
From the far reaching effects of local and regional regulations to the intricacies of the Federal Clean Air Act, and from state environmental impact reports to local citizen action committee questionnaires, responsible, forward-thinking companies must be prepared to communicate a clear, proactive environmental message to the public -- and the media -- or risk the loss of reputation and revenue.
With environmental legislation and regulation encouraging the public to act as "watch dogs and whistle blowers," no business can afford to be without a strategic environmental plan. It could be accurately viewed as an insurance policy against becoming the unsuspecting target of the media and special interest groups.
We provide our clients with simple, straightforward, proactive and reactive environmental public relations, internal and external communications, planning and implementation. With our team of seasoned public relations and community relations practitioners, we have become a leader in the tough and intricate field of environmental communications.
A full service agency, we offer our clients:
A comprehensive environmental communications audit and review within the context of current and pending legislation and regulations.
Strategic environmental planning tailored specifically to environmental issues affecting clients, with particular attention given to how an environmental message affects ongoing business.
Detailed, ongoing environmental consultation and recommendations for the implementation of a positive, proactive environmental communications campaign.
Assistance in presenting Environmental Impact Reports to planning commissions and community members.
Guidelines for public relations and community relations activities which are designed to strengthen and enhance a client's professional and public posture, providing an active voice in environmental affairs with legislators, business associates and professional organizations.