10 a.m. Update – Hurricane Zeta will be hitting me today. I am evacuating. I may or may not be on the chat during the presentation. Feel free to Tweet to me real-time @gbraud or email me real-time at gerard@braudcommunications.com and I will answer your questions. Crisis Communications in the Age of COVID-19: PRSA ICON 2020 Presentation

It was both the weirdest and most challenging presentation to prepare for. After years of preparing my presentations for PRSA, this particular presentation for PRSA ICON2020 has adapted and evolved in a number of ways due to the smoldering COVID-19 crisis.

What I can promise to you crisis communications and public relations professionals, is valuable lessons on what has gone right, what has gone wrong, what we can do moving forward, case studies, tools, and takeaways that you can start using immediately in your organization.


See you on October 28, 3PM Eastern Time.

Download the slides here if you would like to prepare, take notes, review, or debrief: https://braudcommunications.com/prsa/

Use this link to schedule a free, private call, or in other words, a virtual “drink” with me after the presentation to debrief, discuss, and ask questions: https://calendly.com/braud/15min

For the video course to write your crisis communications plan visit: https://braudcommunications.com/5-steps-to-effective-crisis-communications/

Covington, KY Student vs. Native American Drummer Crisis Case Study

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

The crisis dominating the news this week is the viral video of students from a Catholic High School in Covington, Kentucky shown in contrast to a Native American drummer.

It’s a crisis. It is requiring serious crisis communications and crisis management. The high school is in reaction mode. The student pictured most prominently is in reaction mode.

What could have been done to prevent this?

That is the question we are asking this week on The BraudCast.

While many PR people pride themselves on managing crisis communications after a crisis, I pride myself on all of the many times I never had to do crisis communications on behalf of clients because of the techniques we used to keep the crisis from ever happening.

Please share your idea and answers.

Please keep your answers objectively professional. This is not intended to be a conversation with snarky, politically volatile answers. We’re looking for professional public relations wisdom.

You can post answers:

Here on the blog

Tweet and follow me @gbraud

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Subscribe to The BraudCast

I’ll collect your professional wisdom and share it with everyone next week.

Thank you for participating.

Answer Hint: Part of the answer lies in the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications. If you haven’t watched these 5 free videos, register here.

This question is one of a series of debates in the media relations, crisis communications, public relations, and social media industries where you and your colleagues can share observations with each other. Yes, YOU are invited to share your bite size bits of best practices. Here is how:

Step 1: Subscribe to The BraudCast on YouTube

Step 2: You will see a short video that poses a new question every Monday. You then post your best practices and observations on The BraudCast YouTube channel.

3: Once your opinion is shared, you can follow the discussion online so you can compare your best practices to those of your professional colleagues.

Step 4: Watch the Follow up Friday Video where you will see a short YouTube video outlining some of the most interesting observations. Yes…your comments may actually show up on our BraudCast video, bringing you world-wide fame, fortune, a big raise, glory, street parades, and more.

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge. Please take 2 seconds now to subscribe to The BraudCast.

2019 Crisis Communications Planning Based on 2018 Trends

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

There are many great articles about the biggest PR crises in 2018. Rather than write such an article this year, I thought it would be more effective to help you plan your 2019 crisis communications strategies based on what happened in 2018. Read more

Twas the Night Before Christmas With Edits

By Gerard Braud

The poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas, is only 56 lines long. As writing goes, it’s pretty perfect. But we all know there are people where you work, who feel compelled to make edits, no matter how perfect your writing is. Maybe it’s the CEO or CFO, or an engineer, IT guy, accountant, doctor, or even the lawyer. Sure, they just want it to be more accurate and legally correct. But are all of those edits really necessary?

So for those of you who feel compelled to make edits, and to those of you who have been victimized by a red pen, I offer to you this special version of the poem, with edits. ©2018

Twas the Night Before Christmas With Edits


 Twas the nocturnal period preceding the annual Christian festival, when throughout the domicile


No one of consequence was moving, including the rodents


Long socks receptacles were suspended near the thermal unit, with safety as a top priority

in expectation that a legendary Christian Bishop, born in the region of modern day Turkey, in or about 280 A.D., who was later Canonized by the Pope, would arrive post-haste


The humans below the legal age of majority, were reclined comfortably within their sleeping apparatuses


While apparitions of dehydrated fruit, filled their subconscious


And the maternal figure donning a headscarf, and I, in a consensual relationship, did likewise


Had just reached a state of extended hibernation


When in an external grassy zone, a ruckus occurred


I spontaneously ejected myself from my sleeping device, to evaluate the situation


Away to an opening in the wall I expedited myself


With vigor, I forcefully opened a set of protective panels


The satellite of the earth unified with the flakes of ice crystals


Gave the reflective quality of noon, to objects below


When, while visibly curious there appeared


A smaller than common vehicle of transport and eight proportional deer, common to subarctic regions


With a demure heavy equipment operator, so agile and prompt


I surmise instantly that it must be the aforementioned Saint


More rapid than birds of prey, the mammals came


And he exuded a high-pitched sound, then proclaimed their given names


You may Google the historic names if necessary, since corporate policy prohibits us from releasing names without consent… and because some of the names imply behavior that may be deemed as inappropriate or suggestive, and not in keeping with our policies regarding sexual harassment in the workplace


To the top of covered shelter protecting the entrance to our domicile

To the top of the vertical structure supporting the inner and outer cladding


Now run or travel somewhere in a great hurry, bolt, and/or gallop


As foliage void of moisture within a tropical cyclone, having winds exceeding 74 miles per hour


When they encountered structures that hindered forward progress, they accelerating upward


So up to the structure’s ridgeline the beast maneuvered


With the vehicle at capacity with objects of play; and the Bishop inside as well


And then like chimes, I heard on the ridgeline


The exaggerated movement, and clatter of horny feet


As I extracted my head from the framed opening, and was moving in a circular motion


Down the vertical channel for combustion gases, came the Saint, with great haste, void of OSHA required protective gear


His wardrobe consisted of natural mammal pets with hair still attached, covering his entirety, much to the protest of certain animal rights activist


The garments were discolored with combustion residue


A sum of replicas were suspended to the rear of his torso


And like a merchant of goods, he displayed all of his wares


His visual organs – how they reflected the light

His facial indentions exhibited great joy


His face just below his eye socket, was reminiscent of blooming thorn-filled plants; his nostril area like ripe, round fruit


His pursed lips, they provoked such dry amusement


And his unshaven facial hair was similar in color to the crystalized precipitation


The extension of a tobacco burning device was clinched within the enamel-coated structures of his jaw


And cancer causing carbon particles were visible in a circular shape


His facial structure was wider than it was tall

His spherical abdominal region

Vibrated upon guffaw, resembling a food basin at capacity with sweet, semisolid preserve


His weight-to-height ratio was disproportionate; while he correctly personified a character portrayed in a seasonal holiday movie classic starring Will Ferrell


And there was humor in his antics, despite my presence


A non-flirtatious closing one eye, and a rotation of his neck


Soon indicated he was friend and not foe and therefore there was no need to seek outside mutual aid


He remained silent and demonstrated a commendable work ethic


And he filled the long sock receptacles; then made a quick, sudden movement


And he placed his index digit beside his nostril trunk


And with acknowledgement, he ascended the combustion chamber vent


He extradited himself to his transport, then repeated the high-pitched sound


And away the individual and his mammals departed through a control ascent in the atmosphere, similar in nature to the seed disbursement mechanism of certain plants


But I was able to discern his verbal proclamation as he departed from vision


Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night… despite the edits.


©2018 Diversified Media, LLC dba Gerard Braud Communications

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

3 Traps Public Relations Folks Fall Into

spider-web-1031615_19201) Too many people in public relations fail to ask for help when they need it.

There are many sources for expert help and advice. There are great professional organizations like the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRA), and the Southern Public Relations Association (SPRF).

Many members of these associations are willing to pick up the phone for free to answer a simple question. If most don’t know the answer to your question, they’ll gladly refer you to a colleague who is an expert. You could even give them a shout on social media.

2) Public relations folks cause greater problems for themselves by trying to tackle tasks that they are not good at or for which they have no professional passion.

In my own career, my passion for dealing with the media and crisis communications lead me to develop a niche’, rather than opening a full-service PR agency. If I need other aspects of PR, I call other experts who have PR agencies in New Orleans, New York, Toronto or other cities around the world.

Trying to do what you don’t know how to do is noble. Trying, learning, and achieving great things are commendable. But reaching beyond your capabilities often leads to failure, which then leads to you being further undervalued by your employer. Sometimes you get fired when the failure is too big. Often the difference between success and failure is simply asking for professional help.

And based on the personality type, you need to realize that most of your employers do not understand your craft or your profession. They think it is easy. Business leaders think you can work miracles. CEOs expect you to create magic on a shoestring budget. And often you do create magic with no budget and it feels great when you do. But when you do, you reinforce the notion of every CFO that you don’t need a bigger budget to do what you do. In reality, often you need to push back and say, “No, we need an outside expert to help us with that because the value of success is important and a potential failure would be more costly.”

Some of you are blessed to be in organizations with a huge PR team with experts in many areas of social media, internal communications, employee engagement, corporate social responsibility, and media relations. Many of you wear too many hats and do it all by yourself, including marketing, branding, advertising, and customer service.

3) Public relations folks often wear too many hats and do it all by themselves, including marketing, branding, advertising, and customer service.

Before you reach too far and fail, consider picking up the phone and reaching out to a professional colleague to ask for advice, help, and mentorship.


Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson


PR and Communications People: It’s Time to Re-evaluate Your Life

concept-1868728_1920By Gerard Braud

Public relations and corporate communications professionals: It’s time to look at your life. The kids are back in school. The Labor Day weekend is behind you. Co-workers have all wrapped up their summer vacations. For the first time since Memorial Day the entire staff is all in one place at one time. What was not even a second thought last week is suddenly urgent and important.

Is “work – life” balance possible for people in public relations? Experience tells me many public relations professionals get stressed trying to complete job tasks while also balancing their family or personal life, especially this time of year.

Do you feel invigorated to recommit yourself to achieving end of year goals? Or do you feel stressed because so much has gone unaccomplished all summer and now deadline pressures are looming?

If you had work-life balance you would feel neither re-invigorated nor stressed after Labor Day because you live your entire year in balance rather than the ups and downs and ebbs and flow of a chaotic corporate existence.

Here are three ways to level out your life.

1) Implement a rolling 12-month calendar

Develop a strategic communications plan based on a rolling 12-month calendar and stop planning your communications based on either your calendar year or your fiscal year. When PR people live by a calendar year there is the “fresh start” syndrome of January, complete with soon-to-fail New Year resolutions. Next you spend January and February getting ready to get ready.

March, April and May are your busy times of the year, with pauses for spring break and Memorial Day. Little gets accomplished in the summer because too many people who impact your goals and projects are on vacation. By the time you regroup after Labor Day, it takes several weeks to get rolling again, similar to New Years. By mid-September you are productive again and you stay focused through Halloween. Your mind then starts planning for Thanksgiving break and then for Christmas. Before you know it, New Years rolls around and you hit reset all over again.

Does this sound like you? If so, it appears you have five productive months a year and seven months of distractions.

Set a goal from September 2014, through September 2015. Strategically plan all of your goals and deadlines for training, publications, etc. On October 1, 2014, extend the strategic plans and goals by one additional month, through October 2015. Keep doing this at the first of every month and you now have a rolling 12-month calendar.

2) Plan around the obstacles

When you build your 12-month rolling calendar, set clear, hard deadlines. Identify the times of the year when people are inaccessible, such as in the summer, and plan around those challenges. If you need a team meeting or a training program next June, send the invitations out now, before people fill their calendars with vacation dates. That will make next summer more productive because you planned so far in advance. Everything won’t come to a grinding halt.

3) Budget accordingly

A 12-month rolling calendar will make the budgeting process easier. You should set clear goals now to spend your remaining budgets before the end of your calendar or fiscal year, so you don’t lose those dollars. But as you enter your new budgeting phase and make budget requests, you should also schedule on your calendar exactly when you plan to spend your dollars for training and projects using your 12-month rolling calendar.

Planning this way allows you to get contracts in place early, which legally commits your funds to vendors now, preventing the boss from taking your money away should conditions change for the worse down the road.

Stop losing momentum. Adopt a rolling 12-month calendar that resets strategic goals and budgets at the start of each month for the next 12-months. Too many people live start and stop lives. Recommit today to end the ebb and flow to achieve greater work-life balance.


Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson


You May Be Guilty of PR Word Vomit

https-::pixabay.com:en:business-adult-people-office-3365365:By Gerard Braud

Before every media training class I teach, I ask the PR team to provide me with their existing key messages. Most are word vomit.

Many public relations people “vomit” every word they can, every cliché they can, and every statistic they can onto the page they submit to me. As you might guess, I have to do major key message re-writes before every media training class.

While teaching interview skills in a media training class, a participating executive provided expert insight to the lesson I was teaching.

“So you don’t want us to word vomit everything we know in a media interview, right?” he asked.

That isn’t how I would have phrased it, but now that I think about it, many spokespeople, and the public relations people who write the key messages for the spokespeople, are guilty of “word vomit.”

When a spokesperson is being interviewed, more is less. You must help them fight the urge to say everything they know about the company or organization.

The more you say to a reporter, the more you subject yourself to editing that you may not like.

It may not be pretty, but today’s media training expert advice is:

  1. Avoid word vomit when you write your key messages.
  2. Avoid word vomit when you are speaking to a reporter in a media interview.

If someone read your key messages right now, would they think, “Ugh. Too much information!”?

If you need help finding the perfect way to write your key messages, check out my “Kick-Butt Key Message” writing program.


Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson



3 #MeToo Sexual Misconduct Considerations for CBS: Lessons in Crisis Communications & Public Relations

MoonvesBy Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

Variety magazine is writing about the CBS public relations crisis surrounding the sexual misconduct allegations against CEO Les Moonves. Many of you reading this blog could be faced with similar allegations against one of your executives and wondering what you should do and how you should handle such a potential crisis. This requires both expert crisis management and expert crisis communication.

Variety asked for my thoughts as a crisis communication expert. My quote to Variety is identical to expert crisis management and crisis communication advice I would share with all of my clients. It begins with deciding a proper course of action and then sharing a sincere statement that explains what you are doing and why. CBS has said they will leave Moonves in his position while they investigate. I would have gone one step further and asked Moonves to take a leave of absence during the investigation. Trust me, he won’t really be doing his job well with the weight of the accusations and the negative publicity of the crisis. This is the crisis management phase.

First, you should consider the perspective of the crisis. People believe they were hurt and want justice, while someone has been accused. Without a confession, it becomes a situation that requires a third-party investigation. This is the personification of “she said; he said.”

Secondly, consider that this is a highly volatile topic and that the #MeToo movement evokes strong opinions. There will never be a 100% agreement on how to handle such matters.

Thirdly, in business, the decision makers must remember the saying, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” Hence, when multiple accusers come forth with similar allegations, it is logical to assume the accused person is likely guilty. But lost in many sexual misconduct cases is the basic American principle that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. CBS, however, is following that principle.

My crisis management advice to any company facing allegations against an executive would be to ask the executive to take a leave of absence with pay while an investigation is conducted. My crisis communications advice would be that such a move must be accompanied by a thoughtful and sincere statement, such as:

“Because of the sensitivity of the allegations being made, we feel the best course of action is to conduct a thorough investigation. Because such investigations can prove disruptive to the day-to-day operations of the organization, we have asked the accused individual to take a leave of absence until the investigation is completed. Once the investigation is completed, we will share our findings with you.”

Of note in this modern age of frequent sexual misconduct allegations, employers would be well served to work out the logistics of such a leave agreement, during the hiring and contract phase of onboarding any new executive. Take your cue from police departments, who take an officer off of the street after a shooting, while an investigation is conducted. Some police officers are put on desk duty while others are put on paid leave. The police departments know that a distracted officer should not be on the street with a gun. Likewise, a distracted CEO should not be making decisions that affect the reputation and revenue of the company.

Finally, remember that the time to address your crisis management and crisis communication plan of action is to make these hard decisions on a clear, sunny day, when you have clarity of thought. The best time to deal with a crisis is before the crisis happens.


Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson



The Most Cringe-worthy Jargon You Must Avoid

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

People in public relations, media relations, and corporate communications love to make fun of jargon and most have a hit list of phrases, clichés, and abbreviations that they hate.

People hate jargon.

Employees hate jargon.

Customers hate jargon.

I once introduced, “The Worst Speech in the World” to show how cringe-worthy jargon gets.

This is not the usual keynote speech I deliver, but I could likely write a customized speech just like this for every association, conference, and convention from New Orleans to New York.

So why does your CEO, VP, or manager use jargon?https-::pixabay.com:en:conference-public-speaking-2705706:

Why do your work colleagues use jargon?

Here are some observations:

1) Many executives, business coaches, business trainers, and authors are looking for a profound phrase or expression. The “sticky” phrases get repeated by people who want to share what they learn from the coach, trainer, or author.

2) No one has taught the person using the cliché, especially in a speech, that originality is more profound then mimicking someone else. We can usually chalk this up to the speaker not having a speech or communications coach and trying to wing it.

3) The world is full of copycats who use copycat clichés. For many, it might be laziness or a time saver, to simply lift phrases they’ve heard all of their lives.

In conclusion, analogies are great. Use them with sensitivity, such as avoiding the phrase, “open kimono.”

Make your analogies original. People love original thoughts and ideas.

I invite you to add a list of the jargon you hate in the comment section below.


Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson



3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

Melania Trump Jacket Crisis Gerard BraudTalking about crisis communications, media relations and the Trump White House is difficult. Too many people want to look at issues only through the politics of whether they love or hate the Trumps. To appreciate this article and to comment on it, you cannot and must not let your love or hate of the Trumps enter your mind. My observations are about public relations and are neither left, right, nor center. They are PR. Are we good? If you agree, then read on…

If you were on Melania Trump’s team and saw her wearing her Zara designer jacket with the inscription, “I really don’t care. Do u?” while boarding her plane after visiting a controversial refugee center where children are being relocated and separated from their migrant parents, what would your PR instincts tell you to do? Keep in mind, that this could happen with one of your executives or their spouses.

Here are three public relations steps you can take:

1) Explain the optics and offer a Plan B.

The Trump White House is unique in that they either are oblivious to optics or they are comfortable enough with the level of support they receive from their base that they dismiss negative optics. But in this case, my suggested approach in any event with the potential for bad optics is for you to directly approach your leader, in this case, the First Lady (but in your case it could be an executive or a family member of one of your executives) and explain the consequences of their action.

The conversation might be, “Mrs. Trump, we just noticed that on your jacket are written the words, ‘I really don’t care.’ Mrs. Trump, you specifically made this trip to show you care. The writing on your jacket could lead to horrible consequences and criticism if the media, or the public, photograph you wearing that. Do you have another jacket that you can put on or should we stop and purchase one for you?”

When I was a journalist, I was a part of many political motorcades that stopped so the handlers could buy clothing between public appearances. For example, a candidate wearing a coat and tie to speak to a luncheon of CEOs may fail to see the optics of him wearing the same coat and tie to his 3 p.m. meeting with pig farmers on a farm.

Keep in mind, Mrs. Trump was also criticized for wearing high heels when leaving the White House to visit Texas flood victims last year. I saw it happen live and immediately commented on it to my wife. Later, Mrs. Trump showed up in tennis shoes. Ultimately, the staff must be ready to travel with a variety of wardrobe options in the event the executive has failed to think things through.

To be an expert in crisis management and communications, you must pride yourself on preventing the crisis, rather than priding yourself on your response after the crisis has unfolded.

2) Have the nerve to speak up if no one else will.

Often team members are afraid to speak up or are afraid of getting fired if they do speak up. In my opinion, you are not doing your job and you should be fired if you do not speak up. Your job should be to protect the reputation of your brand at all times, even if your brand is technically the image of the First Lady.

If you refuse to speak up, you are weak and do not deserve the job. Seats at the table are not offered to the weak. If you do speak up and get fired, you should celebrate the opportunity to move on and work in a place where your expert opinion is respected, rather than being miserably crushed like a bug.

3) Be willing to quit your job if the executive dismisses your suggestion.

We do not know if anyone on the First Lady’s team attempted to intervene. I’m sure there are a lot of layers of protocol before someone can successfully interject and stop a PR disaster from unfolding. But, if it is your job to speak up, and if you did speak up, and if you were rejected and sent away, then by all means… quit your job.

I’m constantly amazed by PR people who tell me their bosses will not listen to them. Routinely PR people tell me about how their bosses will not allow them to do their jobs properly. Really? You should quit.

The bonus tip:

And even though I promised three tips, here is a bonus fourth tip.

After the event has gone badly and you have to defend your executive, for goodness sake, learn to parse your words. Mrs. Trump’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham issued a statement that read, “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message.” Technically, it was a jacket. Technically, the words on the jacket constituted a message, as all words do. And technically, the message wasn’t hidden, but damn if it didn’t appear to be subliminal or oblivious to optics. If you are in charge of communications for the wife of one of the most powerful people on the planet, I would hope you could be a better wordsmith.

In conclusion, some powerful people are oblivious to optics; some don’t care. If you are in the communications profession, your entire purpose should be to care. If you keep getting rejected when you attempt to do what you know is professionally correct, it is the equivalent of asking someone if they would like fries and a large drink with that news release. You are little more than the person taking orders at a fast food restaurant… and your worth is about equal to the $8 an hour wage the burger employee makes.

Stand up. Be strong. Do your job… and do it well.


Photo credit