BOOK: Crisis Counsel, by Tony Jaques, PhD

Crisis Counsel: Navigating Legal and Communication Conflict
Tony Jaques, PhD, Rothstein, 2020.


Whose advice to follow in a crisis situation? General counsel, who will err on the side of caution and say as little as possible; or the communications director, who instead wants to speak up about how much the company cares – actively seeking to protect reputation? In other words: should you follow the litigation model or the mitigation model?

Navigating the conflict between the two is the topic of this book, and, through a selection of cases, author Tony Jaques guides the reader methodically through the teamwork required to properly examine and deal with the many aspects of crisis. Crisis management is an area where experience counts for so much, and in his foreword for the book, emeritus professor of communication at the University of Houston, Dr. Robert Heath, points out that Jaques is well placed to tackle the complexities of the field. “The first evidence to support that claim comes early in the book when [Jaques] compares the assessment provided by general counsel and by the communications director following an explosion and chemical release at a manufacturing facility,” Heath writes. “Experienced readers will find the contrasting advice of these two archetypical individuals to be familiar.

Readers who are novices in crisis response must mark that dramatic moment. It is a tug-of-war between two disciplines whose training and experience confront management with a difficult choice.” Jaques’ valued advice draws on his years of work with issues management, helping him to “cut to the heart of threats”. Legal counsel and communication, he argues, can work together to settle matters to the satisfaction of both courts of law and public scrutiny. As a government ministerial adviser, corporate executive and business consultant, Jaques is a recognised authority on issues and crisis management and risk communication.

In his role as Asia-Pacific issue and crisis manager for the Dow Chemical Company for more than 20 years he was responsible for implementing local issue, crisis and community outreach programmes throughout the region and had a hands-on role in managing a number of high-profile crises. He continues to serve as a thought leader in those areas with new projects to help educate other fellow professionals as a conference speaker. Jaques is a New Zealander who now lives in Australia, where he runs his own consultancy and lectures postgraduate students at two universities. His latest book offers practical guidance for senior executives, lawyers and public relations professionals to navigate crises and to balance conflicting advice from lawyers and communication professionals.

Crisis Counsel will help the reader to understand why and how to apologise without increasing liability; to understand the essential difference between corporate responsibility and legal liability, and navigate the legal and communication challenges of dealing with the media in a crisis. Readers will learn from original research in which lawyers and communicators speak in their own words; draw practical everyday lessons from real-world examples of conflict between lawyers and communicators; and motivate lawyers and communicators to work better together and identify and avoid crucial areas of potential conflict.

Ultimately, Crisis Counsel has been written to help readers make the right decisions and do the right thing to protect their organisations. And a time like this, this book could make a useful addition to many CIR readers’ bookshelves.

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