Skype Session with Kristin DeRosa on Crisis Comm

By Kelly Stock, Event Planning ChairPRSSA

At PRSSA’s first general meeting, former chapter president, Kristin DeRosa spoke to members about Crisis Communications. As a Client Executive in the Public Affairs and Crisis Group out of the New York office of Burson-Marsteller, DeRosa works daily to service confidential client relationship as part of a global team operating in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Germany, Belgium and France.

DeRosa’s Skype presentation called, “Weathering the Storm – Crisis Communication and Preparedness,” began with a brief introduction and background of Burson-Marsteller, one of the top five agencies in the world. Complete with 157 offices, Burson-Marsteller practices in many areas including Healthcare,Corporate/Finance and Public Affairs/Crisis Communications.

When working in Crisis Communications like DeRosa, “be prepared to work a lot,” she said. When you start in a firm, you are obviously the lowest on the totem pole, but there is also a lot of room for promotion.

To start thinking like a crisis counselor, critically examine the news, and watch how each of the different news cycles unfold. Everytime you see something come out of the media, start questioning why they said what they said. Did they say it the right way? Then test yourself by asking how effective was the organization in conveying their message? What happened? What are they doing about it?

To Burson-Marsteller, a crisis is defined as, “A sudden, unexpected event, a situation causing an unexpected and serious disruption of business functions, or a severe loss of confidence or damage to reputation regarding key stakeholders.”

To prepare for a crisis, there are six steps DeRosa’s company follows:

Crisis Preparedness:

1.) Define what a crisis is to your organization

2.) Clearly est. and reinforce an employee protocol (always have a contact list to know where everyone is and what they are doing)

3.) Distinguish crisis team roles and responsibilities

4.) Determine escalation notification process

5.) Approve and media train spokespeople

6.) Update and maintain contact list for crisis team

DeRosa says, “It is very important to keep up on top of what is happening.” When a crisis does occur,taking specific steps to respond is very crucial:

1.) Identify the issue, then evaluate potential crisis, and assign ownership

2.) Assemble a crisis communication team and notify senior leadership

3.) Activate basic communication processes (ex: real time monitoring)

4.) Determine how and when to respond to media and stakeholder inquiries

5.) Listen for response and evaluate message effectiveness

If you are thinking about working for Burson-Marsteller, you must complete the 10-week Harold Burson Summer Intern Program. To apply for this paid internship, you must be a rising senior, 2014 graduate, or a current graduate student. Your GPA must be a 3.0/4.0 or higher, with strong written/ verbal communications skills. Deadline to apply is February 14, 2014. To learn more, visit www.burson–

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