Category: Presentation Training


The Humane Society’s Silence On CEO’s Alleged Sexual Harassment

The Humane Society of the United States—an animal welfare group known for its advocacy against factory farming, puppy mills, and the fur trade—almost certainly has a donor and employee base particularly attuned to the #MeToo movement.

So when Wayne Pacelle, the organization’s president and CEO, was accused of several allegations of sexual misconduct, it presented an especially difficult challenge for the group.

Yesterday, the Humane Society’s board voted to keep Pacelle. Seven board members quit immediately in protest. What was a reputational risk yesterday has just become a major crisis.


In a Flash: Invasive Photos And Celebrity Humiliation

Several young women in the public eye—singers, socialites and actresses—have been the victims of an unscrupulous paparazzo who snapped a revealing photo of them stepping out of a car and sold it.

That’s why I was impressed when I learned that at least one media training firm had anticipated that threat and provided their clients with specific tips for how to exit a car.

Madelaine Petsch, the 23-year-old star of the CW television show Riverdale, explained how her media trainer taught her co-stars how to avoid the consequences of an unscrupulous paparazzo.


If You’re In a Pothole, Don’t Dig A Sinkhole! | Crisis Communications

You’ve probably heard this classic crisis communications chestnut: “If you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

Put another way, if you’ve already driven into a bumpy pothole, you must avoid turning it into a massive sinkhole that swallows your reputation.

Every crisis is different, but I’ve repeatedly seen certain patterns play out that unnecessarily turn potholes into sinkholes. This post breaks down five of the most common—and while some of these crises began as something much larger than a pothole, they were made that much worse by a bad response.


“This Is Us” Actor Sparks A Fat Suit Controversy

On Tuesday nights, my wife and I look forward to NBC’s This Is Us, a tenderly written drama that tells one family’s story over two generations.

One of the most lovable characters is Toby (Chris Sullivan), who plays the partner to one of the family’s three siblings. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s relevant to note that both characters are overweight—and their struggles with weight make up a big part of their characters’ narratives.

When some fans learned that Sullivan wears a “fat suit,” a mini social media storm ensued. In this post, I look at four of his media messages in response: three good, one bad.


Joel Osteen’s Hurricane Response: Days Late And Dollars Short

It’s an indelible image: the wealthy televangelist who fleeces parishioners with an inspiring message while emptying their pockets. Anyone who remembers Jimmy Swaggart tearfully confessing to his sins or Jim Bakker’s scandalous affair has seen a pious religious leader who wasn’t everything they presented themselves to be.

Fairly or not, critics of Joel Osteen—the Houston-based senior pastor of Lakewood Church—accused him of matching that archetype earlier this week for his apparent reluctance to immediately house victims of Hurricane Harvey. Here’s where he went wrong.


Why Ryan Lochte’s Apology Was A Belly Flop

Last weekend, Ryan Lochte—the 12-time Olympic swimming medalist—claimed he was robbed at gunpoint.

Brazilian authorities quickly determined that Lochte had fabricated most of the story, embarrassing the host nation and taking attention away from the accomplishments of his fellow athletes.

He finally issued an apology. It was a belly flop that took only partial responsibility and rang of insincerity.


A Soccer Star, A Drunk Driving Arrest, And A Perfect Apology

Abby Wambach, the U.S. soccer star who won two Olympic gold medals and helped her team win the 2015 FIFA World Cup, was arrested for driving under the influence on Saturday night after running a red light in Portland, Oregon.

Her apology stood out to me as a case study for exactly what to say when things go wrong. She acted swiftly, took an unequivocal claim of responsibility, and pledged to make sure this never happened again.

She deserves credit for at least not compounding her first bad decision with a second one.


“American Pie” Singer Is Neither A Villain Nor A Monster

Don McLean, the singer-songwriter best known for his 1971 hit “American Pie,” was arrested last week on a domestic assault charge.

Last Thursday, he released the following statement: “This last year and especially now have been hard emotional times for my wife my children and me. What is occurring is the very painful breakdown of an almost 30 year relationship…There are no winners or losers but I am not a villain.”

As soon as I read the phrase, “I am not a villain,” I knew that unfortunate word ‘villain’ would find its way into headlines—and it did.

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