The New Crisis Rules for Professional Services Firms


The pace of business and the flow of information makes it tough for all communicators in the new world of crisis management. However, teams at professional services firms face even more complications. 

Professional services firms – such as management consultants, lawyers and accountants -  are often decentralized fiefdoms representing individual practices, offerings or solutions.

The Practices operate in silos within the firm, with little integration, a situation exacerbated when there has been acquisitions and mergers in the recent past.

At any time, many of the firm’s employees will not be in the office, but on the road or based at a client’s premises for the duration of a project.

A single client will be receiving work from several different service lines within the same firm, but each service line may be staffed and managed separately.

This provides additional challenges for communication, compliance, accountability and speed of response – all of which pose big problems in crisis management.

Fortunately, help is at hand for those of you in professional services wondering how you can effectively respond to an emerging threat in the digital information age.

Experienced communicator and crisis manager, Tim Blair, now leading corporate communications at Navigant Consulting, having previously spent time at Huron Consulting and Grant Thornton, tackles the topic in the new eBook, ‘The New Rules of Crisis Management’.

You can get your free copy here.

Tim authors a chapter which looks in detail at how professional services firms should approach this new era in issues management and crisis communication.

The key observation?

“The only way to address the accelerated velocity of modern crises is to prepare, prepare and prepare some more.”

Here’s the key points of preparedness, according to Tim (the book has a lot more detail!):

  • Install New Antennae: Crisis communicators must be visible and credible across every level of the enterprise, not just at the most senior levels. Who will that engagement manager in Tulsa call if workplace violence flares late on a Friday afternoon?
  • Invest in Technology: Tools such as contemporary intranet platforms, collaboration tools and apps (such as RockDove’s In Case of Crisis) are the most effective way to track challenges in a decentralized organization. They also provide a real-time window into the health and safety of employees.
  • Know Your Business: This means understanding the key milestones and risk points in client engagements. This is particularly critical on material engagements with publicly-traded clients and with public sector work that offers comment periods and forums for debate.
  • Keep It Simple: Firms must remain authentic in good times and bad. Beating back a crisis does not start on the day that the crisis presents itself – but rather in the years leading up to the event. The discipline of maintaining a consistent brand voice, social brand presence and tone, and appropriate levels of engagement on digital platforms becomes the connective tissue that holds together the firm’s crisis response.

Read more about Tim’s analysis of the new crisis rules for professional services firms by getting your free copy of the book by registering at