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OC Bar Association Presentation on Sexual Harassment

 
The Orange County Bar Association Labor and Employment Section has invited Crystal to speak about sexual harassment on a panel March 12th. She will join Attorneys William M. Crosby and Tina Rad to discuss, “Why Are We Still Getting Sued?: Harassment Causes, Consequences, and Prevention Strategies.”
 
According to a Wall Street Journal article, “Why Sexual Harassment Matters to Investors,” 88% of company boards have no action plan regarding sexual harassment claims, despite the EEOC’s findings that companies have spent over $295 million in sexual harassment claims in the last 5 years – and these numbers do not include private settlements.
 
Some topics that will be discussed include the broader impact of workplace bullying and harassment, prevention strategies, policies that work, effective training, warning signs and early detection, handling complaints, dealing with bad PR and business disruptions, civility and professionalism in the workplace, and long-term solutions.

Crystal Co-Presents to the ProVisor's OCLLP Group

 

On March 1st, Crystal will be co-presenting with Cheryl Bame to Orange County Lawyers in the ProVisor’s OCLLP group. 

Their presentation, “Managing and Protecting Your Firm’s Greatest Asset: Its Reputation” is extremely relevant in the public relations climate of 2018.

They will share how lawyers can get their reputation in shape using PR tactics and strategies. Topics will include how to get on the media’s radar, being considered for speaking opportunities in your field, tips on expanding your relational capital in the greater community, and what to have on hand for adverse PR situations.

 

Managing Partners as First Responders in Crisis Situations

A cyber-attack alerting clients of internal short comings
Discovery of an enormous accounting error
Partner dispute gone viral
An angry customer gets the media to show up in the lobby

Situations like these often send clients panicked to their attorneys for advice. Even more so for managing partners, as their attorneys turn to them

Much like a paramedic, you should know how to move your client out of harm’s way and keep them stable enough to recover, or at least before sounder minds prevail and the experts arrive.  

On March 13, Crystal Rockwood will be presenting to the Orange County Managing Partners about the following:

  • What actions to take at the first sign of a crisis including possible reimbursement for business disruption costs
  • What key materials are needed in most crisis situations
  • How to assess threat factors which will influence strategy
  • How to determine when and if expert counsel is needed
  • Common indicators of potential PR threats
  • What safety measures to have in place before a crisis hits
  • Specific cases of negative PR impacting the private, public and non-profit industries

Although this is a closed presentation, if these topics are of interest to you or your clients, please contact us here for more information about scheduling similar presentations.

Hit with Negative Publicity? You May Qualify for Crisis Management Expenses

IRVINE, Calif.—Last year, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) projected the annual cost of cybercrime to the world’s largest economies, U.S., China, Japan and Germany, at over $200 billion.*  There is no doubt in anyone’s mind this particular crime is accelerating with no signs of slowing down.

Sexual harassment claims aside, when a disaster, manmade or otherwise creates negative news, there is an expectation by the public or from a fiduciary perspective, of an obligation to deliver communications with a company’s interested audiences. What happened? Who and how many are affected? How long have you known? Why were we not told earlier? What is being done to rectify the situation?  Why wasn’t this in place earlier?  Why should we stay or believe you?  These are on-going questions, which, if not answered appropriately at the right time by the right messenger, in the right medium can generate after-shocks leading to even greater damage.

Once client confidence is rattled, revenue begins to slip and pipeline projects, offers and referrals start evaporating. The same symptoms are felt in the non-profit industry, where donors and other key supporters quickly distance themselves from the toxic cloud. Clearly, significant adverse negative news causes general business interruption.

A businesses’ greatest asset is its reputation

The most important role of the crisis management team is to get the organization back to doing what it does best and this typically requires getting control of the story or narrative and replenishing lost PR capital.  Thankfully, a number of insurance companies also want their clients’ customers’ confidence restored and have created coverage specific to these demanding situations.AGCS, AIG, Travelers, AFC Insurance, Consumer Specialties Insurance Companies (CSI), Chubb and others have created specific insurance benefits in certain crises to mitigate negative publicity.  Why? Michael Klein of Travelers said when introducing their crisis management expense endorsement, “This endorsement provides coverage to qualified insureds to help protect their business and its single greatest asset – its reputation.” ** 

Insurance Journal reported when CSI announced the addition of crisis management/cyber risk endorsement to its commercial general liability policy, it “provides a sublimit of $25,000 for crisis management, cyber liability, breach of privacy and security notification protection, free of charge to CSI’s participating insureds on policy renewals.”*** The article notes higher limits can be obtained at additional costs.

Most businesses and organizations are loathe to call a crisis a crisis. As such, many are unaware; coverage may be available if the public has lost confidence in their products or services because of damaging media reports due to public disclosure of lawsuits, cyberattacks, etc.   According to CSI’s announcement, “…such expenses include public relations, legal and/or crisis management expenses incurred with insurer approval to mitigate fallout from any negative event that might impact a CSI insured.”***  

Travelers CyberFirst® policy for leaked or stolen information that results in negative publicity may pay up to $50,000 for reimbursement. Chubb’s website indicates coverage through its DigiTech® for data breaches covered under Employment Practices Liability.

On the communications front, developing strategies for crises is like navigating the rapids.  The situation and the players change  constantly, random obstacles are to be expected from within and outside an organization—Board members leak sensitive information, exective management members see an opportunity to unseat disliked colleagues, competitors use the conflict to show why they are a better choice—all of this can and has happened.

Self-inflicted injuries are the worst.  A well-meaning but non-media savvy employee or attorney, “handles” a media inquiry, prompting an investigative reporter to show up at the office requesting an interview with a cameraperson in tow. 

As #MeToo seismic waves continue to reveal more alleged perpetrators of sexual harassment, it is doubtful if insurance companies will cover damages resulting from these claims, as prior to insurance coverage the entity knew or reasonably should have known that such actions could result in crisis response management costs.

Other than cyber liability, other kinds of situations which might warrant retaining crisis communications counsel include:

Public disclosure of lawsuits

Business disputes

Employment lawsuits

Investigations (Attorney General, FBI, District Attorney, regulatory agencies, etc.)

Fiscal mismanagement

Investigations

Product recall, liability

Terrorism

Workplace violence

Adverse negative publicity is distracting at best, signals vulnerability and can end operations and legacies alike.  Check today to see if your policy includes a crisis management endorsement, it is never a question of if, but when.

Crystal Rockwood is CEO of Rockwood Communications Counsel, Inc., which specializes in building, protecting and restoring reputations through PR counsel, crisis and issue management. RCC has operations in Los Angeles and Orange County.  Ms. Rockwood can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

*Allianz Launches Cyber Coverage to Address Emerging Risks (6/8/2016)

**Insurance Journal, Travelers Introduces Crisis Management Expenses (4/5/2011)

***Insurance Journal, Consumer Specialties Adds Crisis Management/Cyber Endorsement to CGL Policy (6/5/2017)