Public Affairs ~ Reputation Management ~ Issues & Crisis Management

Public Affairs / Issues & Crisis Management is a  “legacy part” of SW&A work, and a favorite part of principal Sam Waltz’ work, drawing on his 4 decades of experience in Journalism, Civic & Government Affairs, Corporate Life, and Volunteer Leadership.

Projects have ranged from providing Strategic Public Affairs Strategy, Leadership, Counsel & Advocacy — including Media Relations — on such issues as…

  • Abuse of Trust in Predatory Clergy & Teacher Abuse of Children;
  • Abuse of Trust by a Physician involving Patient Safety Issues;
  • Abuse of Trust by a leading CPA in the alleged theft of funds managed under his discretion;
  • Defamatory Intent in damaging a not-for-profit organization and its volunteer board upon the arrest of its former executive director who stole a significant amount of funds;
  • Defamatory Intent in damaging a former employer by a frustrated supervisor who abandoned his job and attempted to extort money from his employer before filing US Civil Rights charges;
  • Defamatory Intent to extort a significant amount of funds from a not-for-profit by threatening reputational damage;
  • Litigation PR in Chancery Court action to recover $40 million of dissipated wealth from a wealth management institution;
  • Coordination of response in the first-ever suicide in a residential mental health facility;
  • Coordination of Response in major Environmental Issues (Air & Water) at an aging chemical plant, including Regulatory Affairs;

SW&A’s approach is characterized by being proactive…

  1. Need for Proactive Reputation Management

Leadership has no pressing Reputation Management / Issues & Crisis Management situation at present to which it needs to react. However, it is well aware that such issues occur regularly. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is the old phrase, and leadership is aware that it seems prudent to anticipate and prepare for the likelihood if not inevitability that it will have to confront such an issue(s) one day. SW&A is the only Delaware professional services provider with its PRSA credentials working in this space.

  1. Problem-Solving Deliverables by SW&A in Issues & Crisis Management

We explain in our presentations important conceptual frameworks, as well as a variety of (undisclosed clients’) issues which we recently have handled. We make the points that…

Four Sources of a Crisis:

  • Mission Failure
  • Leadership / Management Failure
  • Human Failure
  • Acts of God (and others)

Issues / Crisis Management Process:

  • “Put out the fire” or “Stop the bleeding”
  • Strategy Development
  • Implementation
  • Rehabilitation / Repair

Prevention and/or Mitigation of Issues becoming Crises:

  • Audit Exposure
  • Remediate
  • Plan & Rehearse
  • Ongoing Management Focus, incl “banking a reservoir of good will” via proactive attention

Finally, at SW&A, depending on the client needs and interests, we develop based on the interests, time, priorities, and budget of our client, using what we describe as a “good – better – best” approach.

Plan A:  In Crisis

Client already is in crisis, already in interruption of normal business, or facing that, and / or facing reputational issues from the kinds of crises described. SW&A has a normal business process designed to restore calm and routine normal business as quickly as possible. Each one is unique to the crisis, as it must be.

Plan B:  Basic

Client is not yet in crisis, but it is aware that Reputational Management issues always are afoot, and that they can plague the organization at any moment. This approach does not anticipate any proactive strategic development, but relies on “building intimate familiarity” with the Client as an asset to be utilized in Public Affairs / Reputation Management / Issues & Crisis Management.

Plan C:  Comprehensive

This approach builds on Plan B, but its objectives are to disarm and prevent, by auditing exposure, remediating where possible, and providing some modest level of training for recognition of causation factors and handling so that an event does not escalate to a crisis.