When the stakes are high ...
Westermann Advisors is focused on supporting corporations, organizations and individuals in situations that represent special reputation risks. Particular areas of expertise are Litigation PR, Crisis Prevention, Crisis Communication, Transactions and Change.
When it counts we are at your side - with professionalism, extensive experience and dedication to your needs. We help our clients to gain respect and trust of its stakeholders. We achieve this by making sure that words and deeds are consistent, trustworthy and convincing.
Communicating successfully in special situations requires broad competencies und experience. We assess the situation ruthlessly, efficiently and with an outside perspective. This becomes the foundation for a clear, concise and strategic communications effort that addresses all relevant stakeholders.
Crisis Communication - prevention and ad hoc
A crisis typically presents a severe threat to your reputation. Many corporations, however, are not sufficiently prepared. There are no plans, no tools and no processes. Early warning systems, good risk management and clear responsibilities help to reduce the likelihood of a crisis. These are often the result of mistakes made in the past, which have been brewing for a while. Scenario planning allows us to identify weak spots and to prepare an organization. Crisis Prevention is vital but shaping, nurturing and growing your good reputation will be equally important when the day comes.
Often organizations are not just hit hard but are overwhelmed in a crisis. Everything happens at once and resources are spread thin. That is exactly where bringing in Crisis Communications experts can make a difference.
You need to stay in the driver's seat from the start and act quickly. If not, you will have a tough time to recover lost ground and will lose in reputation and, as a consequence, in financial and operational strength. Dealing effectively with a crisis and at the same time continuing to deliver for the ongoing business, is often more than the existing team can cope with.
Litigation PR is a special form of Crisis Communication. It requires a thorough understanding of the legal system and experience in working with lawyers. State attorneys in Germany have become much more aggressive. The media is on the case much quicker than before and typically has easy access to information relevant to the case. The public has often decided on guilt and penalty long before the case sees the courtroom. This is why it is so critical to speed up discovery and prepare a communication platform that is ready for use before the story hits the media. Not everything the lawyers need and want to know is relevant for communication purposes and definitely not with the same urgency.
The challenge is to quickly filter out those pieces of information that are reputation critical. Right from the start we help to position your viewpoint in a simple, easily understandable way. We put the charges in context and, by presenting your case to the media, help address the court of public opinion. This is especially challenging in the more complex business law cases or patent disputes, in which we specialize.
Successful change is driven from the top, where senior management takes responsibility and shows leadership. Clear, consistent communication plays a key supporting role in managing change successfully.
Change is a strain on any organization. Employees feel very insecure and overwhelmed when companies change directions, are acquired and have to be integrated or when sections are bought or sold. The same is true when companies restructure, when plants are closed, or when a company goes through bankruptcy proceedings.
Employees are often resentful and not at all supportive to the change process. A main concern is: What will happen to me? A question that is difficult to answer – especially in the early stages of a change process. Rumors are rampant and productivity suffers. More than 50 percent of all change projects simply fail.
Strategic, clear and open communication is important to successfully implement change. It can provide a framework for all stakeholders, promote understanding and ultimately generate lasting support for the change effort.
Introducing and maintaining a compliance management system is a change process. A recent German court judgement (LG Munich I, Siemens/Neubürger) charges the Management Board with the responsibility of setting up a functioning compliance organization that prevents damages as well as provides risk control. This is a task required of all board members that cannot be delegated to certain members nor to individual subordinates. Clear responsibilities are necessary. In addition, the effectiveness of such a compliance organization has to be checked regularly, especially following any wrong doing, and sharpened when necessary. These rules also apply to Managing Directors of a German GmbH.
However, without being part of the corporate culture, compliance remains an abstract term, a complex set of rules, that does more to stifle an organization then to encourage correct behavior. Legal frameworks have to be translated and adapted for day-to-day operations and made relevant to employees. They have to embrace compliance guidelines as values and make them part of their value system. To achieve this requires clear responsibilities and communication processes. Messages have to convince, motivate and commit.
Beliefs and attitudes cannot be dictated. Employees need a value system, a compass, that enables them to make the right decisions themselves. This is what we help to achieve.
We grow with your challenges
Rainer Westermann is a Member of the Board of the Crisis Protection Network. It brings together crisis professionals from all over the world, who share a commitment to excellence in crisis management and brand protection. Members have a common approach and methodology, which they apply individually or in collaboration with other experts in the network. The CPN team combines many years of experience working with multi-nationals, midsized corporations and SME’s alike and offers comprehensive services in three main categories - Advisory Services, Intelligence & Research and Training & Education. The Crisis Protection Network is an Association under Swiss Law.
In Germany, Westermann Advisors works with diverse highly qualified partners, who in agreement with the client can be brought in to complement the team as required.
Rainer Westermann is an experienced entrepreneur, corporate executive and advisor to senior management. Over the course of 30 years in Germany, Canada and the USA, he managed professional services firms and provided counsel on reputation management. As a corporate officer, he was responsible for building, improving and protecting corporate reputation. He is a Member of the Board of the Crisis Protetion Network, Zurich.
At Infineon Technologies, a German DAX 30 corporation, he was, during difficult times, responsible for the global communications function. As a Member of the Management Board of LHS Group, a publicly traded software company based in the USA, he was the corporate spokesperson towards the global investment community and the media. As CEO Germany, he completed the turn-around of Burson-Marsteller, a well respected brand name in communications consulting. While in Canada, he built a successful corporate communications and investor relations practice for Fleishman-Hillard. Early on in his career, Rainer started his own marketing communications agency from which he founded Fleishman-Hillard Germany that he managed and built.
Throughout the years, Rainer repeatedly traded the perspective of an external consultant with that of an in-house decision maker and corporate executive. This broad experience has been shared with many clients, colleagues and employees as consultant, trainer, mentor and coach. His specialties are Litigation PR, Crisis Communication and Reputation Management.
Rainer serves on the Executive Education Board of the Executive Education Center at the TUM School of Management and for several years now teaches as a lecturer at the TU Munich.
Carola Harms advises companies and organizations with an emphasis on Change Management, Issues Management and business relevant special situations. Her clients benefit from almost 20 years experience as a consultant, manager and political advisor. Her specialties are phases of expansion or restructuring, mergers and acquisitions as well as change of leadership. Carola also has extensive experience in strategic business development.
She founded and built her own consulting firm with emphasis on Strategic Communication, Corporate Events and Governmental Relations. As Managing Director of the innovative Isar Kliniken GmbH and the Isar MVZ GmbH, a private hospital and medical center in Munich, she was responsible for the company’s expansion. Earlier in her career, she established two subsidiaries of an international lobbying firm in Germany. She also served as Deputy Head of a foundation as well as member of the supervisory board of a dotcom start-up.
She gained valuable international work experience at UN Headquarters in New York and Genf as well as with UNCTAD. During her university years she studied in Passau, Tours and Sydney.