Crisis Communications

What We Think

Illustration: What We Think

Effective crisis communications doesn’t involve “spin,” doublespeak, or putting the proverbial lipstick on a pig. Rather it involves candor, and whenever possible, openness and transparency. If there is a void of information, the media will find no shortage of misinformed “experts” to fill it. It’s typically best to get all the bad news out a quickly as possible, rather than have it dribble out through multiple news cycles.

STARKMAN frequently advocates that companies in crisis directly address their impacted stakeholders, rather than have their messages interpreted and distorted by reporters and bloggers. In other words, while the ubiquity of the Internet and explosive growth of social media have created additional risk vulnerabilities, they can also be harnessed as a communications channel for more effectively managing through them.

While crisis situations cannot always be anticipated, it is imperative that companies plan for the unexpected and put systems and action plans in place to deal with a crisis eruption. After all, as a crisis escalates, nobody has time to hunt for the person with the authorization and access details to add related information to the company’s website and address it through social media accounts.

What We Do

Illustration: What We Do

STARKMAN has the requisite knowledge and experience to help companies and individuals manage wide-ranging reputation-impacting adverse events, such as safety and environmental concerns, allegations of criminal and sexual misconduct, financial and corporate controversies, workplace issues, and social media attacks. STARKMAN’s role on the crisis response team is “all in,” helping clients to identify, react and respond to, and recover from these and other business disruptions.

Among our areas of specialized expertise:

  • Pre-crisis communication planning and training
  • Employee communications (rapid-response)
  • Messaging
  • Media relations management and outreach
  • Spokesperson training
  • Digital communications strategy
  • Litigation support

How We Do It

Illustration: How We Do It

To provide sound, responsive counsel as a corporate crisis unfolds, STARKMAN must be part of the core group of decision-makers within the response team. Our proven effectiveness at suppressing and mitigating crisis situations is the direct result of knowing all the facts and potential exposures in “real time”, rather than learning about them after the fact or through a response team liaison. Our own corporate reputation for integrity and fair play has greatly aided our crisis clients, as trust is a critical element in dealing with reporters. We never advocate “spin” and we never issue misleading statements, both of which are well known among journalists with whom we interact.

Underscoring STARKMAN’s strong stance in the face of client crises, we are quite prepared to publicly expose media wrongdoing and voice our concerns about the decline of mainstream media when warranted.

Who We Do It For

Illustration: Who We Do It For

STARKMAN has worked with major organizations and high-visibility executives on myriad crisis matters, helping them successfully navigate through unfolding reputational, financial, and operational challenges as they occur — and to be best prepared in advance for when they do. Understandably, we cannot divulge much information about the work we’ve done — or who we’ve done it for — due to the inherent sensitivities. After all, in most instances, our counsel successfully resulted in the matters at hand not being publicly disclosed.

We can, however, acknowledge our work with Richard Grasso, the former head of the New York Stock Exchange who we proudly represented when he was unceremoniously forced to resign. Mr. Grasso is on record as saying we played a major role in his legal triumph against former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Other areas of particular accomplishment:

  • Orchestrating the public vindication of a high-profile SEC regulator who the media improperly speculated was involved in wrongdoing
  • Persuading a major business publication to abandon plans to publish a damaging feature story after aggressively demonstrating reporter bias and ethically questionable reporting tactics
  • Mitigating the hostile media coverage of a highly visible portfolio manager whose fund suffered extensive losses
  • Developed and produced a crisis communications handbook that strategized against more than 60 possible risk scenarios for a company in the manufacturing sector