5W CEO Speaks at Harvard Business School on Crisis

5WPR News

What will your company do when a crisis occurs?


Crisis communications, on its surface, is easy to understand – when something bad happens, respond accordingly. However, crisis communications, much like the industries it serves when disaster strikes, is constantly evolving to effectively and efficiently respond in times of need. While there are best practices experts in the art employ, no crisis is ever identical, and increasingly there are new stakeholders and forms of media that need to be accounted for to properly diffuse a situation.


5WPR CEO and Founder, Ronn Torossian spoke on this subject to two classes at Harvard Business School, Tuesday, by providing his expert analysis on the “United Breaks Guitars” case study. The PR nightmare, which occurred when United Airlines infamously broke a musicians’ guitar, remains a paragon of how reactive communication strategies can make a bad problem worse.


“Crisis doesn’t care whether it’s your birthday, your vacation, the weekend – when it occurs, the company must be prepared with an authentic and genuine approach,” said Torossian to the students. “In the case of United Airlines, the company failed miserably at handling this – and other crisis PR issues.”



He also participated in a Q&A, where students inquired about his offered thought leadership and unparalleled experience on notable topics within the industry, such as Nike and Colin Kaepernick’s images, the ever-evolving social media landscape, and the strategies within crisis communications.


“With all the social media platforms expanding and evolving, companies need to be very aware of how this platform gives any consumer a voice, and for those notable ones to have an even bigger impact,” exclaimed Torossian. “Today, a recommendation from the Kardashians is perhaps as – or more – valuable than a Super Bowl commercial, and that is not going to change anytime soon.”



Torossian’s invite to speak at Harvard Business School is not only a testament to his thought leadership and innovative vision, but a confirmation of how important crisis communication is for companies now, and will continue to be in the future. With modern day crises dramatically diminishing stock prices, causing the removal of executives, and long term brand damage with consumers, companies without clear protocols and resources at their ready will be left doing damage control when a crisis hits.


“Harvard Business School is known to educate the best and the brightest, and it was evident in the student’s insight and analysis,” said Torossian. “The student’s foresight and engagement were inspiring. From the Bronx to Harvard – I was proud to present at HBS and look forward to repeated visits.”

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