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Crisis Communication Workshop Agenda


8:00 – 8:30 am
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8:30 – 10:15 am
What Research Can Teach Us: An Evidence-based Approach to Crisis Communication
W. Timothy Coombs

Crisis communication became an important topic for managers and researchers in the 1980s. In the early days, the advice consisted mostly of “war stories” and “case studies.” Over the past thirty years there has been an increasing amount of quantitative research designed to create a more reliable, evidence-based advice for crisis communication. This presentation shares key lessons learned from evidence- based approaches to crisis communication including the value of stealing thunder and matching crisis responses to specific situational factors in a crisis.
W. Timothy Coombs (PhD from Purdue University in Public Affairs and Issues Management) is a full professor in Department of Communication at Texas A&M University. Dr. Coombs researches in the area of crisis communication and his works appear in numerous academic journals. Dr. Coombs has worked with governments, corporations, and consulting firms in the U.S., Asia, and Europe on ways to improve crisis communication efforts for themselves and their clients.

10:15 – 11:30 am
Making Crisis Communication Work
Irv Rein

How do you attack the crisis encounter and make it work? It is often a stressful situation where there is a thin line between success and failure. In many cases, the situation is occurring in a compressed period of time, with important information missing, and personal relationships under strain, all leading to possible communication breakdowns. In this discussion, the emphasis will be upon anticipating the possible mishaps that can occur under the stress of a crisis situation, and getting the message across as a trusting and believable communicator.
Irving Rein is a Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University and an internationally known expert in public communication and popular culture.

Formerly a faculty member at Harvard University where he was in charge of the public speaking program, he taught such students as Al Gore, Lou Dobbs, William Weld, and Tommy Lee Jones. He also served on Major League Baseball’s Commissioners’ Initiative for the 21st Century. As a part of NASA’s astronaut training program for fifteen years, Rein conducted Public Communication Seminars and was responsible for developing the in-space communication program, which included teaching in space, press conferences, and appearances in the media and various NASA publics. In the political sphere, Rein served as communication advisor for the campaigns of Richard M. Daley, Adlai Stevenson III, Michael Howlett, Jr., Harold Washington, and others.

12:00 – 3:00 pm
Data Breach Simulation

Experience a cyber crisis in real-time in this intense, hands-on, interactive simulation, led by crisis communication experts from Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Participants will work in small groups in a realistic recreation of a public crisis, incorporating the intricacies of a 21st Century media environment. Participants will use an online dashboard to simulate social media activity, interact with instructors who role-play as reporters, executives and other third-party stakeholders, and gain a deep understanding of how cyber issues play out publicly. By the end of the simulation, you will ensure that even if you can’t control the way an incident unfolds, you can remain confident and prepare for any eventuality by building your crisis response skills and leveraging a pre-defined protocol in a crisis scenario.
H+K offers senior counsel, insightful research and strategic communications throughout the world. With over 85 offices in 47 countries around the globe, our teams collaborate across time zones, languages, and cultures to help clients make solid decisions and craft compelling campaigns in today’s measurable world. Our firm has been in this business for more than 90 years, and our world-class teams of trusted advisors and creative experts have a wealth of experience in helping clients strengthen brands, reputations and bottom lines. We work with over 50% of the Fortune Global 500 companies and some of the world’s most transformative social enterprises and technology companies in both established and emerging markets.

3:30 – 5:00 pm

Managing Crisis: Panel Discussion
Irv Rein, W. Timothy Coombs, Bob Rowley

These crisis communication experts will analyze and discuss the impact of how you say what you say, and how it relates to the evidence when executing a crisis communication plan. Drawing on their wide range of experiences, you’ll learn how to manage crisis and implement crisis strategies from expert practitioners who have been on the front lines.
See above for Irv Rein and W. Timothy Coombs bios. Storer H. (Bob) Rowley is Director of Media Relations at Northwestern University, founding president of the MSC Alumni Association and an adjunct lecturer at Medill School of Journalism. He manages all of Northwestern’s daily media relations activities, supervises the media relations staff in the Department of University Relations and directs Northwestern’s internal communications, including news content on Northwestern’s home page and NewsCenter web page. Earlier, Rowley spent 30 years working for the Chicago Tribune (1979-2009), the last seven of them as national editor. He also served there as a member of the Editorial Board writing about foreign affairs and defense issues, and before that, he was a foreign correspondent for 12 years based in Mexico, Canada and Israel. He also served as the Tribune’s White House and Pentagon correspondents in Washington, D.C.

5:00 – 5:30 pm
Workshop Debrief
Amy J. Hauenstein

6:00 – 7:00 pm

7:00 – 8:00 pm
Leading Through Crisis
Judy Smith

They found out. It’s not working. They won’t listen. It’s all over. Now what? As America’s number-one crisis management expert, Judy is on speed-dial for some of the most high profile celebrities, politicians and corporations in the world. Here she gives a step-by-step plan outlining her sharply honed strategies for turning a crisis into a redefining moment.
Judy A. Smith is the founder and President of Smith & Company, a leading strategic and crisis communications firm with offices in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. In the international arena, Ms. Smith has provided counsel to several heads of state and executives of major corporations on matters in the Philippines, Haiti, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Zimbabwe (Save Zimbabwe Campaign). In addition, she assisted the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s leadership with its communication efforts as part of the War on Terrorism. As a result of her wide ranging and ground breaking career, Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC’s hit television dramas Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, developed a television drama about the world of crisis management inspired by Ms. Smith. The series entitled, Scandal, revolves around the life and work of a professional fixer. Ms. Smith serves as Co- Executive Producer of the project and provides insight and technical expertise on crisis management issues. Ms. Smith is the author of the book, Good Self, Bad Self, published by Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. She has received numerous communications and leadership awards and is active in community service.

Why attend?

In addition to earning a certificate of completion from Northwestern University, you’ll also learn how to prepare for the complexity of a communication crisis while protecting all stakeholders.

Where Is It?

The workshop will be held at Northwestern University’s Norris Center on the Evanston Campus. There are many local hotels available, but one favorite is the Hilton Orrington.

Sign up individually or as a group!

Groups of up to 8 people can sign up to practice a communication plan in real time with real pressure. Individuals will be assigned to teams together. Sign up as a group or individually!

Registration – $1,300

Discounts available to MSC alumni and MSC Class of 2017 students at registration.