NEW YORK, October 22—Burson-Marsteller is taking a new approach to addressing corporate communications needs in light of the current U.S. economic environment. The firm has launched a Specialty Work Action Team (SWAT) that will manage complex communications challenges related to restructurings, reorganizations, organizational change, labor issues and litigation.
“The complexity of communications surrounding special corporate events demands both integrated strategy and coherent execution,” says Chet Burchett, president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller USA, who is also leading the SWAT effort. “The key value that our approach delivers is the ability to anticipate and proactively manage the specific—and often conflicting—needs of each audience in a way that supports strategic goals.”
SWAT members will partner with corporate leaders to ensure a path of clear and effective communications with the many stakeholders impacted by Chapter 11 filings and other reorganizations. This will allow the leadership team to remain focused on a critical path of success in their operations.
The continued economic slowdown has already sparked a steep rise in the kinds of corporate events that present unique challenges and directly impact many stakeholder groups: Chapter 11 filings, downsizings, consolidations and other forms of organizational change.
“These situations are very fluid, they move very fast, and they put a communications stain on an organization,” says Burchett. “We have found this kind of cross-functional approach very valuable. Every company may not need all of these capabilities, but they do need to anticipate all the issues that can come up, and we can offer them a quick response mechanism for doing that.”
The SWAT unit will be staffed with the firm’s most senior counselors across industry, function and specialty areas, including experts in corporate restructurings and reorganizations, transactions, litigation support, organizational change and employee engagement, labor relations, reputation management, grassroots outreach and issues advocacy and advertising.
Among the key players are Michael Claes, executive vice president and managing director, who specializes in corporate positioning as well as financial communications, crisis communications, and mergers and acquisitions, and who worked with Intel on its Pentium chip problems and Mitsubishi Estate on the bankruptcy filing involving Rockefeller Center; Tony Herrling, a former business journalist and corporate investor relations officer, who has worked on Chapter 11 reorganizations including Armstrong World Industries and Ames Department Stores; and Lorenca Rosal, who has particular expertise in employee engagement.