Intersection of Restructuring and Crisis Communications

“Public relations and communications is something you do in every industry in any job you will get in the future.” – Joele Frank

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s relations firm representatives Joel Frank and Meaghan Repko’s gave a presentation on ‘Intersection of Restructuring and Crisis Communications’ on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The presentation gave a good insight of investor relations communications where Joel and Meaghan gave real life situations on companies involved in corporate transactions.

I personally have no knowledge on investor relations and have no interest in any bank and finance in general. However, the presentation led me to understand how investor relations also just simply revolve around the concepts of public relations. Meaghan told the audience of strategic communications counsel she gave to corporate companies in areas of bankruptcy and restructuring.  Joel gave ways to attack crisis communication through planning. He taught us that crisis planning is not just about what a person want to do and communicate, but it is rather about how the message is going to resonate with the people as if it is telling a story. He also added that it is important to meet the management’s expectation since it is all about representing a specific company.

The most interesting part of the presentation was about restructuring, which is a confirmation of a ‘plan of reorganization.’ Joel and Meaghan showed a step by step process of communicator’s roles to fulfill during a restructuring or a crisis period. The roles of a communicator was more than just communicating with everyone, but dealing with the company and the audience from a professional point of view by reinforcing status of a company conducing business in the ordinary course to minimizing fear and misunderstanding among key audiences. In bankruptcy public relations, it was also important to preserve and enhance credibility of management by demonstrating that management can improve operations while addressing the company’s financial problems.

Meaghan showed excitement for public relations industry at the end of the presentation stating how public relations never used to have a seat at the table in the previous years, but now it does. I was also very excited to hear about this since I will also be part of the public relations industry soon after I graduate. It is a good things to hear from a public relations major since some still do not know of public relations or does not take public relations to be a necessity field. Meaghan constantly emphasized that an effective communications are essential to achieving a successful restructuring while maintaining business as usual, which is why public relations is really needed in investor relations, but also in other industries as well.

Overall, the presentation was straight forward by giving the audience of what to do and what to not do. I remember Joel’s words on the most important to do list in public relations. He told us to limit number of spokesperson and stay on a strong, simple message by working as a team. He also emphasized that we should take the high road and do not deny on crisis situation since the trend now is to provide context and tailor messages as needed to each key constituencies by monitoring follow up. Investor relations is a field where I have no confidence to work in, but the presentation made me think that my general public relations concepts I learned for the past four years can help me out if I happen to get a chance to work in investor relations in the future.

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