Crisis Management

Abernathy MacGregor is one of the nation’s leading crisis management firms, having advised on some of the largest, most visible corporate crises of the last decade. We are known for our strategic acumen. Our approach has helped our clients achieve superior outcomes by helping them move through a crisis and back to business as usual while keeping their reputation intact—or restoring it. We have also worked on many other situations that, as a result of our approach, were smaller and less visible. Our approach helped to keep them smaller and less visible, also a superior outcome for our clients. 

Crisis Communications: Finding the Right Formula >

Case Studies >

Conversations with Board Members >

10 Worst Things to Do in a Crisis
(And What to Do Instead)

How do we measure outcomes? Protecting corporate reputation while returning the company to business as usual.  Protecting corporate valuation.  Meeting the needs of critical stakeholders. Minimizing business disruption. Reducing litigation costs.

How broad is our crisis experience? Here is a sampling: Oil spills. Ransomware.  CEO terminations. Allegations of assault, harassment or misconduct. Pharmaceutical contamination. Criminal business practice charges. Nationwide agricultural contamination. Social media-based issues. Multi-continent money laundering. Rogue traders. Multi-fatality shootings. Massive fatal explosions. Data breaches. Regulatory investigations. Whistleblower issues. Product failures. Boycotts. Hurricanes. Wildfires. Financial misconduct. Liquidity crises. Product recalls.

Crises also arise frequently within the context of our merger & acquisition, bankruptcy, proxy contest and investor activism practices. These are discussed within those topics. 

Preparation is crucial: In crisis preparedness, more is usually better—but when the clock is ticking, even a few hours make a difference. Our programs range from quick diagnostics to live simulations for Boards and executive teams. Every program is client-specific. We help clients to identify and understand the risks they face, the resources they command, the best practices and procedures available, and the big questions they may need to address (and how to practice crisis readiness when times are calm).

What is our approach? Every crisis needs a bespoke strategy, developed and implemented by a team drawn from board members, executives, legal counsel, insurers and other advisors. Here are the five common elements:

Prioritize the business goal and the key constituencies: Who are the most affected? Who are the most influential? What are their needs?

Communicate directly with those most affected: Be as in-person as possible. Media engagement can be necessary but is rarely the best way to reach critical stakeholders. Go direct whenever possible.

Take constructive action: Determine what genuinely needs to be fixed and fix it before being required to do so. If there are victims, bring the right resources to them. Actions, more than words, demonstrate empathy and accountability and build support and patience among critical stakeholders.

Take the media initiative when it matters: When social and traditional media are central to the crisis, take and keep the initiative. When media presence is peripheral, keep it there.

Protect your credibility: Communicate in themes even as facts are emerging.   Once facts are known, use them as the basis to refine your communications strategy. Avoid finger-pointing and speculation. Lost credibility can be hard to regain.