Remembering a Night of Violence

Violence is bad for business. That view, held by a handful of Houston’s business and political leaders in the early 1960s, contributed to the peaceful integration of Houston’s lunch counters that decade. One business leader at the time, Bob Dundas Sr., was acutely aware of mayhem resulting from racial tensions. He was a teenager in the summer … Read more

Tragedy in West – Part II

After the tragic explosion at the West Fertilizer Company (WFC) in April, 2013, I wrote that it would take months for experts to conclude what went wrong at the facility in West, Texas (see “Initial Observations on West Communications”). Now, nearly three years later, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has completed its … Read more

Need for SSPEED and Centennial Gate

Five years ago today Hurricane Ike struck the Texas Gulf Coast, taking more than two dozen souls and causing the fourth most costly storm in U.S. history. But the fact is, very little has been done structurally since then to improve our region’s readiness for the next big storm. Rice University’s severe storm research group, … Read more

Why Crises Differ

All crises are not created equally. Some company mishaps slip quickly out of view while others linger on at high cost for months and months.  Explanations for the different outcomes can sometimes be found in the actions or inactions of the afflicted company. But frequently it’s the actions of third parties that seize upon somebody else’s misfortune … Read more

Initial Observations on West Communications

Emergency responders and crisis communicators will for months be sifting through the aftermath of the West Fertilizer Company tragedy near Waco in search of clues and lessons learned.  Firm conclusions regarding communication matters cannot yet be drawn, but here are some initial observations. Don’t be last to issue a statement. Be among the first when … Read more

Volunteering for Competitive Advantage

The founder of TOMS Shoes, Blake Mycoskie, believes that entrepreneurs can do good business by doing good for others. He inspired me to launch Bridge Builder Communications last September with a business model of volunteering 15 percent of my billable hours to charities that are important to clients. After six months, how’s the model working? … Read more

Crisis Preparedness Tips For Public Officials

The mind-numbing tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School  and other school shootings have educators and public officials everywhere wondering if the next crisis will involve them. As someone in charge of communications during a highly charged period in Houston METRO’s recent past, I was asked earlier this month to share my thoughts on crisis preparedness … Read more

Quotes From Crises – Santa’s Naughty & Nice List

In business and political crises, every utterance becomes magnified to the point that ill-fated word choices become forever linked to the incident and the reputation of the speaker and their company. “I’d like my life back” will likely be former CEO Tony Hayward’s enduring legacy from BP’s Macondo tragedy in 2010. So how did our … Read more

Learning from the Turkey

Thanksgiving dinner reminds me of a very useful analogy for helping corporate executives better appreciate the health and safety concerns of their fence line neighbors. I was introduced to the analogy about 20 years ago by risk communication expert Peter Sandman, who spoke to several hundred employees and wholesalers of Texaco’s marketing business who had … Read more