Tag Archive for: public relations

On April 11 – 12, 2024, the Logos team led a two-day, immersive Master Class in Strategic Communication for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in Chicago, Illinois.

This two-day Master Class brought together more than 30 professionals from across the country. The Master Class was designed to elevate communication professionals’ capacity by applying principles of strategy to the processes of communication. It focused on how to think clearly; how to influence people; and how to use language with impact.

Logos president Helio Fred Garcia and Logos Senior Advisor and Chief of Staff Katie Garcia served as faculty for this program. Logos has previously led five Master Classes in Crisis Communication for PRSA – in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2023. This was the first year Logos led a Master Class on strategic communication for PRSA.

On the first day we began by centering participants around foundational elements of strategy. Strategy is a system of ordered thinking that helps an individual or organization mobilize resources to accomplish clearly defined goals. The first rule of strategy is to think clearly:

  • to understand the situation that presents a challenge or opportunity;
  • to understand the desired outcome; and
  • to deeply understand an audience and what it will take to change what that audience thinks and feels and how it behaves.

We then turned to how communication professionals can prevent or overcome the marginalization of the communication function and earn a seat at the table as important decisions are being made. We explored how communication professionals can use their craft in the service of goals that matter to management, in ways that deliver value to an enterprise, and in ways that transcend specific functional areas.

We began the second day by taking a deep dive into framing and the management of meaning. Specifically, we looked at how to create context that leads audiences to a desired conclusion. We then explored how we could use elements of effective storytelling to structure content in ways that inspire audiences to support an idea more quickly, change a behavior, or say yes to a request.

We then transitioned to how to convey executive presence when speaking. We explored how incremental changes in posture, body movement, facial expression, and gestures have a disproportionate effect on voice intonation and on audience attention and engagement. We also explored specific techniques on how to effectively engage audiences through a screen.

The Master Class featured robust discussion, learning, reflection, and network building between the participants in the program.

Some feedback we received from program participants included:

  • “This photo [of the Master Class] represents one of the best classes I have attending in my over 30-year career… Together we learned how to bring valid strategy, compelling storytelling, and thoughtful outcomes to any communication we develop.”
  • “I recently had the privilege of attending one of the most impactful classes in my career… This session, with over 30 communication strategy professionals, emphasized the critical role of being trusted advisors within our organizations… The experience was enriching and will undoubtably shape my approach to communication strategy moving forward.”
  • “Thank you for equipping us with a new set of tools and making complex concepts easily accessible and understandable.”
  • “If presented with the opportunity to learn from Helio Fred Garcia and Katie Garcia, I implore you to run, not walk to sign up. Thankful to Fred and Katie for not only sharing their wisdom, but creating an environment where we could also be authentic and vulnerable in sharing our experiences and insights to learn from one another.”

We are always grateful to have the opportunity to teach, learn from, and be in relationship with participants in PRSA programs.

On Thursday, October 19, Logos president Helio Fred Garcia was quoted in Inc. on what is required for the cryptocurrency industry to improve its reputation.

The article outlines how the industry’s reputation, which was already tarnished, has suffered following the collapse of FTX and amidst trial of Sam Bankman-Fried. Garcia notes that more regulation and strong, ethical leadership are required for for public perception of the industry to change.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

Still, convincing a skeptical public that crypto isn’t inherently plagued by fraudsters will be difficult. Imposing regulation will be paramount, Helio Fred Garcia, a professor of crisis PR at NYU and Columbia, explains. And the SBFs of the world will need to be properly censured. Indeed, says Garcia, the broader public won’t come around “until first there’s a shakeout. And second, there’s the imposition of adult supervision.”

Read the full article here.

On Thursday, October 12, Logos president Helio Fred Garcia was quoted in Inc. on why cryptocurrency proponents continue to believe in and defend the potential of the industry in the wake of FTX’s collapse and amidst Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Even with [Sam Bankman-Fried] facing possible life in prison and cryptocurrency fueling Hamas’s recent acts of terror in Israel, crypto firms’ message remains powerful, as some still believe decentralized currencies are destined to reshape finance, says Helio Fred Garcia, a professor of crisis management public relations at New York University and Columbia. “Just as with the dot-com craze, I think [it’s] a fear of missing out,” he says. “Once you’re in that bubble, it’s really hard to get out.”

Read the full article here.

On Tuesday, June 6, 2023, Logos President Helio Fred Garcia delivered a keynote address on “The Dangers of Disinformation: How Professional Communicators can Preserve and Promote Civic Order” at the 2023 International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) World Conference in Toronto, Canada.

The IABC is a global association that serves professionals in the field of business communication, bringing together the profession’s collective disciplines. The 2023 IABC World Conference brought together more than 950 communication professionals from 34 countries for four days of collective learning, professional development, and networking.

Garcia’s keynote address focused on the challenges professional communicators face in an environment of increasing mistrust and political turmoil.

“The profession of professional communicators is at a turning point,” he explained. “The stakes have never been higher. We will define whether professional communicators remain respected or become a discredited profession. Whether our employers and clients will remain respected or discredited.”

Garcia examined the ways in which disinformation and misinformation can – and have – put human life and democracy at risk. He then outlined a disinformation playbook that, once known, can be used to stop the spread of disinformation.

“Once disinformation takes root it is very difficult to neutralize its negative effects. But…confronting disinformation early can keep it from taking root,” Garcia shared. “Now that you know what to look for, you can begin to recognize it in smaller situations everywhere in the world, especially before disinformation has taken root.”

Garcia ended his remarks with a call to action to professional communicators: to resist becoming misinformation mercenaries and to help their clients and employers communicate honestly and in ways that build trust, rather than erode trust. He also called on professional communication organizations to recommit to the core value of truth and accuracy and to equip members of those organizations to become disinformation detectors. He further called on institutions of higher education, specifically for schools or departments that specialize in some form of communication, to embed the power of truth and accuracy into their curricula and equip their students to be effective disinformation detectors. And he called on media companies to not engage in disinformation or misinformation, to create structures to detect disinformation effectively, and to prevent those who spread disinformation or misinformation from using their platforms.

“Communication has power. Communicators have power. You have this power,” he concluded. “And with power comes responsibility. How will you exercise your power, your responsibility? This may be the most important question you face in your career. Please choose wisely.”

Read Garcia’s full IABC keynote address here.

The following is an excerpt of a guest column by Helio Fred Garcia published on August 10, 2022 by New York University School of Professional Studies’ biweekly LinkedIn newsletter, The Pitch.

Misinformation kills. Both people and democracy.

In May, the head of the Food and Drug Administration warned that misinformation has become the leading cause of death in the United States.

In 2020 misinformation about COVID-19 led to the worst handled pandemic response in the developed world and caused hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths. Starting in mid-2021 misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccinations continued the wave of preventable fatalities.

As of mid-summer 2022, more than one million Americans – one in every 324 – has died of COVID-19.

The risks of misinformation go well beyond public health. The January 6 Committee hearings show how misinformation inspired thousands of people to attack the Capitol on the day that the 2020 presidential election was to be certified. Some of those domestic terrorists sought out and threatened to assassinate Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other members of Congress.

But misinformation doesn’t just put human life at risk. Misinformation risks killing democracy itself.

Political misinformation continues as hundreds of candidates for state office persist in trafficking in the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and promise to take control of the voting bureaucracy in many states. Misinformation also erodes civic trust and the public’s confidence in civic institutions, which are essential for democracy to work.

COVID-19 Misinformation

Cornell University’s Alliance for Science conducted the first comprehensive study of COVID-19 misinformation. It reviewed more than one million articles with COVID-19 misinformation published in the first six months of the pandemic. It found that President Donald Trump was directly quoted in 37 percent of all instances of misinformation. But when the researchers included Trump misinformation that was retold by others, they concluded that he was responsible for fully 50 percent of all misinformation statements about COVID.

The study concluded that Trump was “likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation ‘infodemic.’”

It further noted that:

“These findings are of significant concern because if people are misled by unscientific and unsubstantiated claims about the disease, they may attempt harmful cures or be less likely to observe official guidance and thus risk spreading the virus.”

We saw just this phenomenon play out in the summer of 2020.

In the final two months of Trump’s presidency, vaccines were approved and distributed to the individual states. But there was no plan on how to get the vaccines into people’s arms. Even worse, there was no public education campaign to help citizens understand the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, or to promote the civic duty to get vaccinated in order to stop the spread.

U.S. Army four-star general Gus Perna, who managed Operation Warp Speed (OWS), which developed and delivered vaccines in record time, notes that this failure gave an opening for misinformation to flourish:

“Where was the long-term strategy for getting people ready to start taking the vaccine? … That was not part of the OWS portfolio. It’s a personal choice to get the vaccine or not. But where was the presentation to inform everybody, so that they could make the best decision? Where was the responsibility to not let this get politicized? … It just didn’t exist.”

And in that information vacuum, vaccine skeptics, and later political actors opposed to President Joe Biden, spread vaccine misinformation that continues to the present day. More than a third of Americans are not fully vaccinated. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis in April concluded that nearly a quarter million COVID-19 deaths between June 2021 and March 2022 could have been prevented with vaccinations:

“These vaccine-preventable deaths represent 60% of all adult COVID-19 deaths since June 2021, and a quarter (24%) of the nearly 1 million COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began… Unvaccinated people now represent a small share of the population, but a majority of COVID-19 deaths.”

The Fraud About Election Fraud

The January 6 Committee hearings have definitively demonstrated that the Big Lie claiming that the 2020 election was stolen was not only false but known by President Trump and his inner circle to be false.

Then-Attorney General Bill Barr, who for 22 months had been sycophant-in-chief for Trump, eventually told truth to power. After the 2020 election Barr told Trump that the Department of Justice had investigated all the claims of voter fraud and concluded that there was none.

Barr testified to the committee:

“I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit.”

After the January 6 attack failed to prevent the certification of electors, Trump was still repeating the lie that he had actually won the election. In out-takes of a video the day after the attack, presented by the January 6 Committee, Trump told his staff, “I don’t want to say the election is over.”

In early July 2022, more than 20 months after the 2020 election, Trump called the Wisconsin House Speaker and urged him to overturn Wisconsin’s 2022 election results. In its coverage of that phone call, NBC News noted that Trump “has repeatedly claimed without evidence” that there was widespread voter fraud.

In mid-July 2022, more than 18 months after the January 6 attack, Trump told a rally in Arizona, “I ran twice. I won twice and did much better the second time than I did the first, getting millions more votes in 2020 than we got in 2016.” While the second half of the sentence is true – he did get more popular votes in 2020 than in 2016 – the first part of the sentence, for which the second is support, is false. He did not win the presidency twice. In 2020 Joe Biden received more popular and electoral votes than Trump did. But much of the news media ran his quote without noting that it was false.

Communicators’ Professional Obligation to Combat Misinformation

Tim Snyder, Yale history professor and author of On Tyrannywrote in the New York Times after the January 6 attack,

“Post-truth is pre-fascism… Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around.”

Silence, in the face of misinformation, is complicity. Whether among civic leaders or communication professionals – in journalism, public relations, marketing, and public affairs.

The slogan on the Washington Post masthead is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” It refers to the news media’s obligation to truth, especially when misinformation is putting democracy at risk.

Public relations professionals share a similar duty. The Public Relations Society of America’s Code of Ethics makes clear how those of us whose profession is influencing public opinion have a particular duty. The Code’s first principle is:

“Protecting and advancing the free flow of accurate and truthful information is essential to serving the public interest and contributing to informed decision making in a democratic society.”

Under the Code, the first three obligations of a public relations professional are:

“Preserve the integrity of the process of communication. Be honest and accurate in all communications. Act promptly to correct erroneous communications for which the practitioner is responsible.”

So what can professional communicators do?

We can recognize that misinformation is a significant problem and that communication professionals have a particular standing to take the problem seriously. And once we take the problem seriously, we can deploy our gifts to tackle the problem head on:

  • First, don’t be a misinformation mercenary. Don’t create or disseminate misinformation, on your own or for a client. Just say No when invited to help others lie.
  • Second, call out the misinformation when you see it. Diminish the likelihood that it will take hold and become the new normal. Our obligation as professional communicators extends well beyond not lying. It includes preserving the integrity of the communication process. Communication professionals are far more likely to recognize intentionally misleading information early than the public at large is. As important, we have the capacity and tools to call attention to it.
  • Third, rally other communicators – journalists, PR people, marketers, public affairs leaders – to do the same.

Just one example: In late July public relations wise man and executive editor of Business in Society John Paluszek wrote a LinkedIn column in which he called misinformation a “pandemic of the mind.” He provided tools and links to help communicators and others become well informed about misinformation and its antidotes.

Paluszek called on journalists and PR pros to work to confront the pandemic. At the strategic level, he says, it requires prioritizing the issue; committing for the long term; and persisting. And at the tactical level, Paluszek advises, “communicate, communicate, communicate.”

I am doing that now, in this column; and you can as well. Engage your network, as we professional communicators know how to do, and turn our individual efforts into a movement.

One way to think about American democracy and misinformation is the proverbial frog in a pot of water on a stove. American democracy is the frog. The information environment is the water. Misinformation is the flame that heats the water. And many Americans may not notice the water getting warmer. It’s our job to sound the alarm, and to remove the water from the source of heat – before it is too late.

The power of communication has never been stronger. The risks of misinformation have never been more serious. And the need for communicators to protect the integrity of the communication process – and thereby to protect democracy – has never been greater.

Read the full guest column and more from The Pitch here.

On April 21, 2022, Logos president Helio Fred Garcia participated in the inaugural Global Brand Convergence, a free online experience for higher education students, faculty, and professionals around the world in public relations and marketing. Garcia participated in a panel discussion on “Crisis in an Enduring Pandemic,” alongside renowned communicator and crisis advisor Dr. Guanpeng (Steven) Dong.

Conceived by Jacqueline Strayer, the Global Brand Convergence was designed to connect and create a community to share ideas, innovations, and concepts to advance them in the classroom and in the profession. The inaugural event boasted more than 500 registered attendees from 50 countries and 54 colleges and universities.

In their session, Garcia and Dr. Dong discussed lessons learned from of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled by the US and by China and several core principles and best practices in crisis response. Garcia and Dr. Dong have worked together in several capacities over the past 10 years, and in 2019 Dr. Dong was awarded the Logos Institute Outstanding Leader Award.

Watch the full panel discussion, moderated by Iliana Axiotiades here:

In addition to Garcia’s participation in the event, Logos Consulting Group was proud to be one of the sponsors for this annual event. To learn more about the Global Brand Convergence, visit https://www.globalbrandconvergence.com/.

The following is an excerpt of a guest column by Helio Fred Garcia published in the May 2022 issue of PRSA’s Strategies & Tactics

Effective crisis communication can help organizations maintain trust, inspire confidence, and build competitive advantage.

The pandemic, the Great Resignation, political polarization in the United States and war in Europe have made the need for effective crisis communication even greater.

Increasingly PR professionals are being seen not only as communicators, but also as business problem-solvers, who can help their clients navigate the challenges of maintaining the trust of stakeholders in rapidly-changing times where the stakes are increasingly high.

But PR people don’t deserve a seat at the leadership table simply because of our function. We need to earn that seat. And that means we need to elevate our game and become a respected voice when CEOs and other leaders are under stress and worried about their enterprise and their legacy. Take, for example, the common struggle PR people have with lawyers. And how easy it is for CEOs to take lawyers’ well-intentioned advice.

Making the business case

Over more than 40 years I have advised lawyers and been hired through lawyers to advise our mutual clients. I have taught lawyers through bar associations and have trained individual lawyers in crisis management. And I have fought with lawyers; sometimes I have won those fights. And I have learned from lawyers.

A typical interaction is this: In the CEO’s office the lawyer will give all the legal reasons to say as little as possible – ideally nothing – in the early phases of a crisis. The CEO will then look at me.

My reply is not to make the PR case, but to make the business case:

“I believe you have received excellent legal advice. And you should take it seriously. But please recognize that you don’t have a legal problem, at least not yet. You have a business problem. And you need to make a business decision. You need to consider the risk of legal liability seriously. But not exclusively.

You should also consider the consequences of losing the trust of those who matter to you: your employees, customers, investors, regulators, and others. Silence now will be interpreted as indifference, or worse, and will lead to loss of trust of those who matter most to the company. You can protect yourself from legal liability that will play out years from now, but lose the company in the process. Or you can attend to the immediate needs and concerns of your stakeholders now, in ways that manage future legal liability.”

It’s very hard for the lawyers to object to that. But the key is that we need to be in the room in the first place, to make the case directly to the CEO in the lawyer’s presence. Otherwise, the CEO could reflexively take the lawyer’s advice, without considering the short-term implications. And we’d then be tasked with implementing a suboptimal response.

The CEO then typically asks me to advise on what we could say that would pass legal muster. I ask the lawyer about categories of possible communication:

  • Acknowledge: Can we acknowledge awareness of what has happened? The answer is usually Yes, but very carefully. My reply, Great. Let’s do it carefully.
  • Can we express empathy toward those who are affected? The lawyer usually says, Yes, but we need to be careful to not admit blame. Same reply by me:  Great. Let’s do it carefully, in a way that doesn’t admit blame.
  • Can we declare our values? When the lawyers object, I point out that we typically have them published on our website.
  • Can we describe the overall approach we will take to address the crisis and resolve it? The lawyers usually say we need to be very careful. I again reply, Great. Let’s do it carefully.
  • Can we make some kind of commitment? How about a procedural commitment: We’ll update you when we know more. Or a substantive commitment: We’ll get to the bottom of this and fix it.

In essence, when the lawyers say we should say as little as possible or say nothing, they are channeling an unspoken fear that the company’s leaders will say something dumb; something that will not only increase risks in future litigation but also energize adversaries, regulators, and others to come after the company.

I don’t want the company to say something dumb either. But between self-defeating silence and self-destructive blabbering, there’s lots of room to maneuver. This recognition often leads to the lawyers and communicators collaborating early in the crisis to find the balance. It doesn’t need to be adversarial or either-or.

Managing the choices

At a high level of practice, crisis communication is a rigorous process of managing the choices we make with a view on the desired outcome. The discipline is that leaders should never make choices based on personal preference; they usually do so in ways that make them feel less vulnerable that that can infuriate stakeholders.

Rather, we need to have clear criteria on the choices leaders make – of what to do and say, of when to do and say it; of whom to say it to; of who should do the talking. The more rigorous the approach, the more likely we’ll be seen to be business problem-solvers, and to be in the room before decisions are made.

 

Read the full article and more here.

On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, Logos president Helio Fred Garcia’s interview on the PR Pace Podcast was released. PR Pace, hosted by Annie Pace Scranton of Pace Public Relations, breaks down each week the biggest news stories through a PR lens.

In their conversation, Garcia discuss how to effectively in a crisis. Garcia describes the work we do at Logos Consulting Group, how we approach our work across industries and around the world, core principles of crisis response, how PR professionals can win a seat at the table, and more.

Listen to the full interview below:

NEW YORK (September 29, 2021) – On September 28, 2021, president of Logos Consulting Group Helio Fred Garcia was awarded the 2021 John W. Hill award for lifetime achievement by the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-NY).

The John W. Hill Award, PRSA-NY’s highest honor, recognizes professional achievement in the practice of public relations. Named for the founder of one of the world’s preeminent PR firms, the award has been presented annually since 1977. Previous recipients have included Jon Iwata, Fellow of Yale School of Management, Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick, and James E. Lukaszewski, America’s Crisis Guru® and a mentor of Garcia.

“However far we can see, it is because we stand on the shoulders of those who came before. And I have been blessed to stand on the shoulders of some giants.” Garcia noted in his acceptance speech. “Thank you for this award. I am humbled and honored.”

The award winner is chosen by the chapter’s Executive Committee for confirmation and endorsement following a public nomination period. To be considered for this award, nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Leadership in the development of the practice of public relations.
  • Demonstration of the highest standards of integrity.
  • Fostering and promoting understanding among people.
  • Service to the public beyond the scope of the nominee’s regular duties.
  • Promoting communications and understanding through education and the exchange of ideas.

For 40 years, Garcia has helped leaders build trust, inspire loyalty, and lead effectively. He is a coach, counselor, teacher, writer, and speaker whose clients include some of the largest and best-known companies and organizations in the world. He is the author of five books on crisis, communication, and leadership. Garcia is an adjunct professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and an adjunct associate professor of management and communication in NYU’s School of Professional Studies, MS in Public Relations and Corporate Communication program, where he has received numerous awards for teaching excellence.

“Of all the things I have had the good fortune to do in my career, the one I am most proud of is my teaching at New York University, where over the last 34 years I have taught more than 4,000 students,” Garcia reflected. “Bringing the next generation of PR into the field is one of the joys in my life. And I invite the young people here to take the opportunity to find ways to bring the next generation up.”

The award was presented at the 2021 Big Apple Award ceremony, a public relations industry gala recognizing outstanding team accomplishments, as well as exceptional achievements by individual public relations practitioners.

Garcia closed his acceptance speech with a message to the young public relations practitioners in attendance: “However far we see, we stand on the shoulders of others. You have stood on the shoulders of others. And others can stand on your shoulders.”

On July 21, 2021, Logos President Helio Fred Garcia was mentioned in NeoMarketing Podcast on civility and decency in crisis communication.

In the podcast, hosts Pritch Pritchard and Kyle Golding of The Golding Group, discussed how communication professionals like Helio Fred Garcia and Jim Lukaszewski highlight the importance of civility and decency in crisis communication.

Click here to listen to the podcast here.