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Corporate Communications

On a recent webinar about COVID-19 communications, an audience member asked, “how will leaders know when it is ok to go back to business as usual?” If I was to read between the lines, another way to ask this question could have been, “what the heck are we supposed to be telling our people when we have no clue what will happen or when it will happen or how it should happen?” Looking at jobless claims, small...

To follow up on “Navigating COVID-19: A Briefing for Leaders,” which we posted last week, we’ve created two downloadable, printable references to keep handy as you prepare communications related to COVID-19. The first, a COVID-19 Lexicon, contains a list of key terms related to COVID-19, including self-quarantine, isolation, lockdown, and others. We’ve also outlined the difference between coronavirus, COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2, so you can be sure you are using the right terms about the virus and the disease that it causes. Also available is a tip sheet...

By Mike Kuczkowski Around the globe, we are navigating unprecedented territory. In response to the coronavirus 2019 pandemic, borders have closed, Main Streets have shuttered and millions of people are working from home—many alongside their children, who are figuring out how to go to school via teleconference. The constant stream of information on this emergent disease—the rising number of diagnoses and deaths, the uncertainty of disease incidence due to lack of testing and the evolving public health response—has introduced...

By Diana Dopfel Communicating scientific information is complex. Most of us aren’t scientific experts, otherwise there would be a lot more science in the world. Scientific information is also constantly evolving. Our understanding of the impacts of climate change has evolved dramatically in the past four decades, even if some still question the data. After all, the top scientists in the world once thought the earth was flat, and now we know definitively it’s not. (Though even...

By Mike Kuczkowski Last month, Silicon Valley was abuzz with the unfolding saga of Ellen Pao’s gender bias case against venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. A former junior partner at KPCB, Pao, 45, alleged that male partners there engaged in a pattern of discriminatory behavior against female junior partners. Pao, who worked at KPCB for seven and a half years, also said she had been sexually harassed by a former partner and that the firm...

By Mike Kuczkowski The first move for anyone facing a lawsuit is to get a good lawyer. The second move: get a good communications counselor. In Pao v. Kleiner Perkins, (see The Reputational Costs of Litigation), both sides put significant resources into communications. Pao lunched with reporters from Reuters and re/code. (Note: registration required for access.) The Wall Street Journal took an in-depth look at crisis communications firm Brunswick’s efforts on behalf of Kleiner Perkins. (Ditto.) I’ve been on both sides of...

By Mike Kuczkowski Last week, the coffee giant Starbucks launched a campaign encouraging its baristas to engage customers in a dialogue about race. Baristas around the country were encouraged to chat about race with their customers and write “Race Together" on each coffee cup. It was a bold move, not without risk, and it has drawn both praise and criticism. How do we evaluate a campaign like “Race Together”? I think it give us an opportunity to think about...

By Mike Kuczkowski The two weeks between the AFC/NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl is usually devoted to celebrating the success of the two teams who have made it to the Big Game, examining their strengths and weaknesses, pulling together Super Bowl party menus and generating some excitement about one of the few remaining mass cultural events in America. We’ve spent the past two weeks talking about, ahem, New England’s balls. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock,...

DATE:       August 19, 2014 TO:             Tim Cook, CEO, Apple FROM:     Mike Kuczkowski RE:             Apple Communications Leadership Much has changed since Apple hired its last communications leader in 1996. We thought we’d offer some thoughts about the communications function and the role of chief communications officer, as you head up a search for the successor to Katie Cotton, who retired at the end of May. Admittedly, we don’t know...