In the age of ‘fake news,’ political discord, lightning-fast news cycles and social media shaming, it’s essential that all businesses understand crisis communications and have a plan in place.
On Crisis, created and hosted by Joanna Doven, one of the U.S.’s youngest big city mayoral press secretaries, led communications for the 2009 G-20 Economic Summit and in 2013 founded a public relations firm, Premo Consultants. She has since helped some of the world’s largest companies, educational institutions and regional nonprofits navigate employee scandals, reinvent their brands, and glide through turbulent partisan backlash. Doven guest lectures at her alma mater, Carnegie Mellon, and serves as a guest talk show host on KDKA Radio, the world’s first radio station.
On Crisis features Doven talking with leaders whose experiences with crisis management run the gamut from skillful leadership that led to better brand recognition to those whose mistakes resulted in dire consequences for the brands they serve. Doven unearths behind-the-scenes stories of real-time decision-making to take listeners inside the crisis, providing helpful takeaways that can be applied to any business plan. On Crisis also explores executives’ ‘aha’ moments, when personal crises helped spawn new perspectives and led to meaningful reinvention.
Episode 11 w/ Michael Marr, Director of Government Relations & Compliance, Encina
serves as the Director of Government Relations & Compliance for , an environmental technology start-up company planning a $1.1 billion investment in a circular plastics recycling plant. Marr has led public affairs and crisis communications responses for some of the world’s top companies, including and . In 2008, he was on the frontline of the shutting down and restarting BP’s operations during the historic Hurricane Ike disaster. Recently, he led public affairs for Shell’s multi-billion dollar ‘cracker’ plant in Beaver, Pennsylvania – managing environmental group protests on one hand and shutting down and restarting operations during the pandemic, which impacted 8,000 employees. But perhaps what is most interesting about Marr is his experience before corporate America. Marr worked on Capitol Hill and then went out to serve New York’s Governor George Pataki including as press secretary and as the state’s lead economic development spokesperson in the 18 months that followed 9/11. The state’s role in the economic recovery and redevelopment of lower Manhattan that reshaped the city’s skyline – was impacted by Marr. So what is Marr’s take on today’s media landscape and how “cancel culture” and social media sentiment is shaping public policy? This episode is timely as after a decade under construction, Pennsylvania’s Shell Cracker plant is finally poised to open.
Episode 10 w/ Kris Maher, Reporter, The Wall Street Journal
To launch On Crisis Season 2, host Joanna Doven sat down with 's , one of the nation's most esteemed national journalists writing about major American crises, from Flint's Water Crisis to the spread of PFAS contamination in American communities. Kris just launched his book, , last fall. Telling the story of an environmental lawyer who waged a seven year legal battle with a large coal company over what was suspected to be a contaminated water supply in Mingo County, West Virginia, the book has been very well-received. Learn what makes Kris tick, and understand the mindset of a national reporter as you prepare your organization for the next possible crisis.
Episode 9 w/ Jeff Hahn, Owner and Principal, Hahn Public
Jeff Hahn is one of the nation’s top experts in crisis communications and recently published his first book, Breaking Bad News. His Austin-based integrated agency combines data analysis with time-proven and researched methods on how to best respond to crises in order to preserve brands’ reputations. In this episode, we talk about why crisis communications isn't a "feeling thing", but why it's an acquired skill set necessary more than ever in the age of social media and cancel culture. We riff on why universities are so slow to respond adequately to crises even though they are at the epicenter of news headlines, from hazing incidents to activist professors! Join us as we dissect Jeff’s 5 step method to crisis response that ensures brands establish and maintain narrative control and hint -- brands need to lose the apology!
Episode 8 w/ Sean Hamill, Reporter, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
What is really happening inside of nursing homes and why should we care? COVID-19 has thrust nursing homes and senior care facilities -- rarely in the national spotlight -- into a crisis communications storm. We talk with award-winning reporter Sean Hamill who has reported for The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and is currently the lead health reporter at his hometown city’s paper, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Sean’s recent series on one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks of any nursing home in America has led to data reporting changes and attorney general investigations that will increase accountability at these “end of life” facilities. As a news veteran, we discuss with Sean the future of local newspapers and how they can be saved, why Google and Facebook can play a key role in their comeback and, of course, the years-long steps that led to 332 residents becoming infected and nearly 100 dying from COVID-19 in Pennsylvania’s third largest nursing home. The real results of Sean’s diligent local investigative reporting backs a saying from his college professor: “Local news is at the heart of what makes America work; you have to have eyes on the mundane.”
Episode 7 w/ Billie Jo Weyant, Executive Director of CAPSEA
These days, you can get by without ever leaving your home – which is a nightmare for victims battling domestic abuse or sexual assault. A recent report calls domestic abuse within the larger pandemic the “shadow pandemic”. Backed by data, Jeffrey Kluger’s reporting points out that U.S. police departments are reporting increases in domestic abuse calls in the double-digits. Only when the lockdown restrictions lift, will the full scope of its impact on in-home violence be known. This week, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day and shining the “On Crisis” spotlight on a non-profit victim service agency in one of the most rural parts of America -- Pennsylvania’s mountain country. Called CAPSEA, its small but mighty staff led by Billie Jo Weyant has been pummeled with steep surges in crisis calls, shelter placement needs and trauma therapy as mostly women and children battle an increase in domestic abuse and sexual assault. Founded 40 years ago, we talk with Billie Jo about how the pandemic has stretched her agency’s resources and the opportunity within this reality to tell its heroic story of helping victims live a safe and healthy life.
Episode 6 w/ Chris Togneri, Pittsburgh's Public Information Officer
With distrust in traditional media at an all-time high as news outlets increasingly become platforms for far right and far left ideologies, one thing is certain: "The world needs more Sandy Tollivers." In episode six, we talk with Pittsburgh's chief information officer, Chris Togneri. After receiving his master's in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, Chris covered crime as a beat reporter in California, and then went on to Pittsburgh as a trailblazing journalist, writing award-winning features for one of Pittsburgh's top newspapers. Looking to get an insider's perspective on how first responders really operated, Chris became the city's public safety information officer in 2018 and immediately innovated -- utilizing social media to turn the information portal he was in charge of into a newsroom. We get his insider's perspective on the "defund the police" movement, the lack of editor leadership in local newsrooms, and reflect on the days when local journalism got it right: the era when editors like Sandy Tolliver challenged reporters to spend time on stories, and constantly pique curiosity through source relationship building.