skip to Main Content

When Your Company Confronts a Crisis, Here’s When to Call a Cop

Examiner.com – Article Submitted by Gerry Hanlon (November 17, 2010)

Recently an angry relative of a patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital shot a physician and barricaded himself inside. The tense standoff that resulted lasted for several hours while news media gathered around (and even flew above) the hospital.

For insight into the way Johns Hopkins officials were responding to and handling the crisis, one of the first sources that Baltimore’s local television stations called was Rob Weinhold, founder of the Fallston Group, a crisis and issue management firm. Weinhold has faced plenty of dramatic situations before in his career. These days, he offers that experience to large organizations dealing with a wide variety of public relations issues.

He’s been the Baltimore City Police Director of Public Affairs, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Justice (a Presidential appointment), and Director of Public Affairs (Policy and Research) for the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, among other challenging positions. After his years of public service, Weinhold was a trusted executive for Cal Ripken, Jr., and oversaw his core amateur sports business for nearly seven years. These days, as the principal driving the Fallston Group, he’s putting to good use his many years of executive experience helping to calm and defuse situations – a skill he originally learned as a Baltimore cop on the beat.

Today, Weinhold is finding that his crisis communications expertise is making a critical difference for companies with a wide spectrum of issues. While confidentiality considerations preclude Weinhold from sharing too many client details about his work, he is able to talk about the broad category of problems he helps organizations to solve.

“If you don’t tell your story, someone else will – and it won’t be the story you want told,” Weinhold says.

“If you don’t tell your story, someone else will – and it won’t be the story you want told,” Weinhold says.

“When it comes to handling sensitive situations in the corporate arena, most attorneys advise their clients not to say anything. Marketers tend to advise their clients to launch a campaign. At the Fallston Group, we advise our clients to steer a middle course – be forthright, but tell your story in a way that balances immediate needs with long-term stakeholder and corporate interests,” Weinhold explains.

He adds, “There are many moving parts to a crisis situation, and it’s important to make decisions in a timely manner.”

Discretion is paramount for Weinhold and his associates at the Fallston Group. “I work directly with CEOs who trust me with their most sensitive information,” Weinhold says. “Several clients refer to me as their ‘Chief Reputation Officer.’ Even our name ‘Fallston Group’ is designed fly under the radar. Being discreet is a key part of everything we do,” Weinhold says.

Discretion in paramount.

The Fallston Group has helped companies respond to a wide variety of media relations issues, including accusations of sexual harassment and internal security threats, as well as better understand how to integrate the legal aspects of a communications response to a crisis situation.
“The best result is when we can turn a short-term, adverse situation into a long term advantage by helping the company to change the way they respond to challenges,” he says.

Even though he specializes in calming crises, Weinhold believes in helping companies to avoid them in the first place. So he offers vulnerability assessment and crisis management training as part of his comprehensive approach to protecting his clients’ brands.

“The best way to handle a corporate crisis is not to have one in the first place,” Weinhold says.

Back To Top