Communication Matters

Analysis, critique, and advice on today's hot news topics from the perspective of a Strategic PR Consultant.

Posts Tagged ‘spokesperson’

Don’t listen. ACTIVELY LISTEN!

Posted by mrsmart on March 24, 2014

Actively listen to incoming communication to appreciate what is communicated. Actively listen to outgoing communication to gauge how what one communicates may be received.

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The Power of The Apology in Forgiveness. It works!

Posted by mrsmart on February 25, 2014


Contrary to popular misconceptions, apologizing in a conflict as what we just witnessed in Ukraine is neither a sign of admission of guilt nor a sign of weakness. It is in the spirit of community preservation. The unexpected outcome may be greater national unity as a result.

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Rupert Murdoch, Damaged BRAND?

Posted by mrsmart on July 21, 2011

This piece is written in response to Mr. Steve Forbes’ op/ed on the News Corp phone hacking crisis, titled “Why Rupert Murdoch Will Survive And Thrive Again.”

In his piece, Mr. Forbes compares today’s News Corp’s phone hacking crisis, with Mr. Rupert Murdoch’s company’s excessive debt and almost certain bankruptcy about twenty years ago. In that crisis, Mr. Murdock was said to have successfully applied tools of crisis management, survived, and even thrived.

Where I beg to differ with Mr. Forbes, however, is that this is different. More than finances or money, this “Mother of all CRISES” damages his most important asset, his BRAND.

Comparing the pre-internet, pre blogs and pre-twitter excessive debt and bankruptcy crisis, twenty years ago, to today’s felony phone hacking crisis, is pure apples and oranges. In the bankruptcy case, while it may have been tough, the crisis still had key ingredients for successful crisis management.

It had exigency, a clearly defined crisis brought about by Mr. Murdock’s company’s excessive debt and subsequent potential for bankruptcy. It had a leader of the conglomerate, Mr. Murdock himself, willing to get into the “trenches” and make things right. In addition, there were heads of banks and other financial institutions with whom to communicate, ask forgiveness, and negotiate modified payment terms, and so on. These set of people had just one common interest: to ensure they got paid what was owed to them and not lose their investments. Indeed, according to Mr. Forbes, Mr Murdock met with them, acknowledged the seriousness of the issue and committed to fix what was wrong, and voila!

Unlike in the “bankruptcy” crisis, this one has too many moving parts, too many competing interests, with too many possible outcomes, very few, if any, favorable. The scandal’s reaches are long, wide and deep, and ongoing. To say nothing of feeding frenzy from competitors who would want nothing more than seeing Murdock’s Media Empire fall.

So, while Mr. Murdock may survive and thrive financially; with these endless investigations, however, his most valuable asset, his BRAND, may be irreparably damaged. That’s why Billionaire Warren Buffett is often credited with saying: “If you steal my money, I will forgive you. If you damage my reputation, I’ll never forgive you.”

Emmanuel A. Smart is President of SMART EXPRESSIONS, a Strategic Public Relations and Corporate Communication firm based in Houston, TX; He teaches strategies, tactics and tools of communication, offering onsite and monthly public seminar, consulting and design services. More information, visit

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Posted by mrsmart on June 7, 2011

Rep Weiner D-NY body language yesterday, below, spoke volumes, indicating uneasiness with himself.

Picture from — Rep. Anthony Weiner attends a House Energy and Commerce Committee markup in the Rayburn House Office Building on June 2.

Today, he admitted sending lewd photos of himself! What did him in was not the lewd act; his tipping point was his botched crisis response of denying, delaying and pontificating!

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT SPOKESPERSON–BP’s positive first step to repairing its damaged reputation.

Posted by mrsmart on July 30, 2010

It has been nearly two weeks since BP successfully capped the damaged oil well, stopping the oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico. It is time the company turned its attention to repairing its damaged reputation. For BP, that starts with choosing the right spokesperson, an essential part of a successful crisis response strategy. In addition to ethos and pathos, my advice to clients when choosing a spokesperson is to choose someone preferably a native, when possible, with whom the audience can identify.

In choosing Bob Dudley, a native Mississippian as the new CEO and the new face of BP in America, BP may have struck gold, no pun intended. Dudley brings instant credibility. Having grown up in Mississippi, he has a vested interest in cleaning his own backyard. It also helps that millions of gallons are no longer actively gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. When Dudley speaks, hopefully with a little Southern drawl, the audience may be more inclined to believe him and give the company a second look.

It is true Tony Hayward, the man Dudley is replacing, was the CEO, as such the highest ranked individual needed to speak on behalf of the company. But, the image of Hayward with British accent as the face on television of a British company responsible for the worst environmental disaster in the US was simply wrong tactically. Fairly or unfairly, it may have actually served as catalyst for the damage to BP’s company reputation in the oil spill disaster.

With results Mr. Dudley has promised, in terms of tourists returning to the beaches, fewer and fewer tar balls found on the beaches and compensations satisfactorily paid to all adversely affected, BP will recover from its battered image in time. The company may actually come out from this crisis with a better, more valuable brand.

Emmanuel A. Smart is Strategic PR Consultant specializing in image, reputation and crisis management.

Got an ongoing crisis and need immediate help managing it? Or need crisis management planning seminar or workshop? Contact Mr. Smart. Call 713-834-4138 or visit

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