How To Work in High-stake Situations

Scott Farrell speaking to UF PRSSA members about crisis communications online. Photo by UF PRSSA member Sydney Denninger. 

Event: Crisis and Image Management in Social Media, University of Florida

Presenter: Scott Farrell, President, global corporate communications at GOLIN

Last evening, Scott Farrell, president of global corporate communications at GOLIN, described crisis as “any product stopping, people stopping or show stopping event that jeopardizes a company’s relationship with stakeholders or endangers their reputation.”

In a room full of Gators, this Badger (Scott graduated from Wisconsin) invited students into a conversation about crisis communications.

He shared well-developed insights that were backed by the work he does each day as the president of global corporate communications of his firm.

Giving students a holistic view of crisis, Scott began his dialogue by describing brands. On this topic he said consumers “buy” reputations. Image and reputation is a salient issue among all companies, he said.

To help combat the growing challenges of a changing landscape in crisis management, Scott offered five guidelines:


1.     “Slow” kills companies fast
            “Clients who aren’t ready to respond in the heat of the moment will fail,” he said.

2.     Your competitor’s crisis can become yours

3.     Social Media derives traditional media
            Scott suggested that this is that largest change that has occurred in the last 3-5 years.

4.     New venues of communication become global problems

5.     Local issues can become global problems

Many of Scott’s points suggested that speed plays a huge role in crisis communications. He said “it used to be that you would read about something in the New York Times and then tweet about it,” but the roles are now reversed.

With regard to messages, Scott touched on the role successful communicators play when crisis emerges. His “Six R’s of successful crisis communications” include: Rapid response, Responsibility, Regret, Restitutions, Reform and Resolution.

Spending his professional life as a communicator, Scott tied the evening together by saying that has public relations professionals, “we’re note like Scandal, we can’t always fix the problem completely.”


Lauren Maloney is the incoming president of UF’s chapter of PRSSA. She is a third year public relations student and serves as the business manager at The Agency, an integrated public relations and advertising firm at the University of Florida that is “staffed by students, lead by professionals and inspired by faculty.”

Follow Lauren on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.