Bettison to Present Data Breach Crisis Management CLE (11/12/14)

Depending on its size and scope, a data breach can be a transforming event in the life of an organization. While some data breaches are small, contained events that do not trigger statutory notification obligations or garner widespread attention beyond the affected few, larger breaches can cause serious damage to an organization’s long-term reputation and standing.

The most important aspect of managing a breach boils down to timeliness – timeliness of discovery, investigation, notification and responsiveness. When any aspect of managing a breach is ill-timed, stakeholder trust and loyalty are at risk.

Bettison will present “Data Breach Crisis Management: Investigate, Assess, Notify” at the 2014 Computer and Technology Law Institute, Tuesday, November 18, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. See full brochure here: Computer & Technology Law Institute 2014

Among the topics Bettison will cover for attorney attendees:

  • Federal & state reporting obligations
  • Industry specific notification requirements
  • Planning a response to data breaches
  • How to notify — who, when, and how

Bettison will join Paul Luehr of Storz Friedberg for this informative CLE.


Bettison Facilitates Brand Discussion at ABA Meeting (6/27/14)

Stacy Bettison facilitated a session on branding & reputation for the the American Bar Association’s Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy on June 27, 2014 at Target Headquarters in downtown Minneapolis.

The CBLA is a collaborative project hosted by five sponsoring bar associations (Hispanic National Bar Association; National Asian Pacific American Bar Association; National Bar Association; National Native American Bar Association; and American Bar Association). CBLA strengthens the pipeline of diverse bar association leaders through leadership training and professional development programs.

For more info, visit


Bettison Presents Social Media CLE (4/8/14)

On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Stacy Bettison joined Kendra Bodin (University of St. Thomas School of Law) and Leora M. Itman (Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand LLP) to present a CLE entitled “Tips, Tricks and Dangers of Social Media” for Minnesota Women Lawyers.

Stacy Bettison’s discussion focused on how to effectively use social media to develop and support brands (both personal and company), best practices for developing and monitoring your on-line reputation, and the dangers of social media, particularly media and other crises that can arise from Twitter and Facebook.




Bettison Presents at Hamline School of Law on Health Care Crisis Communications (4/10/14)

Stacy served as a guest lecturer at Hamline University School of Law’s Health Care Compliance Skills course on April 7, 2014.  She presented “Critical Strategies — Health Care Crisis Communications & Management.”  Among the topics Stacy covered:

  • Key elements of strong reputations
  • Objectives after a health care, health clinic or hospital crisis
  • The importance of having a media plan
  • How to ensure accurate investigations
  • Coordinating legal, business and communications strategies
  • The need to be responsive, quickly
  • Why monitoring media coverage is so important
  • How to assert legal defenses without appearing defensive
  • And much, much more.
Stacy, a licensed attorney, former litigator and communications strategist, regularly speaks and provides training on a variety of topics including crisis and legal communications, issues management and media relations.


Minnesota Women Lawyers Features Bettison (3/14/14)

A heartfelt thank you to Minnesota Women Lawyers (MWL) for the Member Spotlight in its quarterly publication, With Equal Right. In this Q&A format, we talk about a range of topics including the typical workday, defining success, role models, and what I do with my “free time.”

Incorporated in 1972, MWL is an association of more than 1,300 attorneys, judges, law students and legal employers, dedicated to advancing the success of women lawyers and striving for a just society.

I have been an enthusiastic member of MWL for over 12 years, participating in everything from the mentoring program to public policy and advocacy to the Board of Directors. A great organization, made up of outstanding lawyers, doing remarkable things.

To learn more about Minnesota Women Lawyers, visit





Bettison to Present on Media Relations at University of Minnesota (3/4/14)

Media relations expert Stacy Bettison will present at the University of Minnesota Saturday, March 8, 2014 a seminar entitled “Media Relations: Pitfalls & Opportunities.”

Her presentation will be part of a larger summit to address horse and animal welfare matters. Stacy’s presentation will be an excellent opportunity for nonprofit organizations, particularly those engaged in animal welfare advocacy, public policy and outreach, to learn how to maximize media coverage of issues.

Stacy will be covering the following topics:

1) What media organizations look for in stories

  • Breaking news
  • Winners vs. losers
  • Fresh content
  • TimelinessRegional/local relevance
  • Visuals
  • A “hook”

2) Media cycles and why they matter

  • 24/7
  • Newspapers (local, regional)
  • TV
  • On-line only publications
  • Social media
3) Opportunities for non-profits
  • Exposure
  • Fundraising
  • Volunteers
  • Collaborators
  • Public policy
  • Followers
  • Credibility

4) Pitfalls

  • Over pitching
  • Failed pitches
  • Not ready w/ sources
  • No images
  • Media runs different story than pitched
  • Not ready for outcomes

5) Case studies and Outcomes — A look at successful media relations programs by the Minnesota Hay Bank lead by Stacy Bettison, Bettison Consulting LLC.

For more information regarding the conference, visit:



Use photography to support communications

Photography can support your communications objectives in the most critical ways. What can be said effectively in words can often be said even more powerfully in pictures.

This is particularly true for communications geared toward public awareness campaigns.

See this recent example of how creative photography by Illinois-based photographer Eric Sahrmann was used to drive home the Milwaukee Department of Health’s message of the importance of healthy pregnancies.

Funny Portraits Of Super Strong Babies Raise Awareness Of Healthy Pregnancies

Credit: Photographer Eric Sahrmann; art director Mike Scalise


Another example of photography coupled with short messages is the World Wildlife Federation’s anti-poaching campaign. Instead of using violent images of poached animals, WWF instead featured the majesty of wildlife with bold messages: “I am not medicine,” “I am not a trinket,” and “I am not a rug.”  Read entire New York Times article here.

World Wildlife Federation’s campaign to stop wildlife crimes included these powerful images.

To see the full campaign, visit World Wildlife’s Stop Wildlife Crime page.

I have worked with many clients over the years who have recognized the value of engaging an experienced photographer to bolster our work together on implementing communications strategies, whether it be a communications campaign, challenge or crisis. The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” always bears out.




Bettison Presents Workplace Violence Seminar (11/22/13)

Stacy Bettison presented “Every Employer is Vulnerable: A Guide to Preventing Workplace Violence” at Winthrop & Weinstine’s Employment Law Seminar, Thursday, November 21st, at Windows on Minnesota.

Stacy Bettison, Kris Kienlen and Laura Pfieffer presenting workplace violence seminar for Winthrop & Weinstine Employment Law Seminar.

Bettison presented alongside Dr. Kristine Kienlen (Minnesota Threat Assessment and Forensic Professionals) and Laura Pfeiffer (Winthrop & Weinstine) moderated.

Bettison’s presentation focused on employee communications and engagement to create a trusting workplace in which employees feel valued and supported. She also discussed communication strategies for announcing lay-offs, terminations, and other difficult situations. The full range of her topics included:

  • Creating a workplace culture of trust
  • The importance of trust in the workplace
  • Ways to destroy trust
  • Rebuilding trust through communications and actions
  • Communications for difficult situations
  • Strategies for de-escalating and protecting employees
  • Supporting the former employee
  • The role of community relations

Along with other seminar topics featuring several the Winthrop’s employment law attorneys, including Minnesota Whistleblower developments, FMLA and ADA job reinstatement, social media and the NLRB, wage and hour audits, employee benefits for same-sex marriage couples, and workplace violence.

This seminar was similar to one presented at the Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute on May 20, 2013 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Click here to view a “Workplace Violence Checklist” originally prepared for MinnCLE.

Gritty and Great: Candid Business Advice from Great Clips CEO (11/18/13)

For many years, Great Clips CEO Rhoda Olsen followed the business advice of her big sister, a successful, trail blazing, whip-smart lawyer in New York City: Don’t wear pants, don’t have coffee with secretaries, and don’t learn how to type.

But last week, at the National Association of Women Business Owners (MN Chapter) Annual Awards Luncheon in Minneapolis, Olsen acknowledged this advice was somewhat limiting. Despite this, Olsen claims she has become the fastest two-fingered typist she knows.

Great Clips CEO Rhoda Olsen gives honest, candid advice for women in business at NAWBO-MN Annual Awards Luncheon (Nov. 14, 2013), in Minneapolis.

Olsen’s address was impactful because of both what she said and how she said it: she didn’t offer soft, feel-good, clichéd advice nor did she sugar coat. Honest, forthright and even swearing at times, Olsen opened up, and was authentic on all things personal and business. In doing so, she proved to a packed-to-the-gills ballroom at Graves 601 that unleashing the rough, hardened and gritty parts of ourselves can be immensely powerful, stirring and motivating.

Olsen shared personal glimpses into her life as a child with an alcoholic parent.  She called motherhood “humbling, horrifying and gratifying,” and delved into the challenge of raising her three boys (only “one was good”). She told of how she once winced at a colleague’s proclamation that he worked out 2 hours a day (Olsen: “TWO hours?! Imagine what you could get done in TWO hours – 4 loads of laundry” among a list of 15 other things). Yet today, Olsen acknowledges that taking care of our bodies is the ultimate confidence builder. A cancer survivor, her body is strong again – she does 200 pushups a day (and even beat a man in a pushup contest, topping him at 211).

Weaving together personal anecdotes and candid observations on business, Olsen’s advice was applicable to not just women business owners, but to men, hopeful entrepreneurs, college students, and everyone in between.

Put aside notions of balance. Work/life “balance” is a hot topic these days, and Olsen boiled it down to this: “Things are going to be unbalanced.”

She shared the story of how she helped one of her sons with algebra from the office. She would receive a fax from her son with the algebra problem, write out the problem showing how to solve it, and fax it back home. Though she wasn’t home helping, she was helping.

Olsen’s advice is liberating. It lessens the pressure that things should be balanced (for women and men alike), and replaces it with permission to pursue a life that is often imbalanced.

Expect of range of feelings. Olsen admitted: “Some days I wake up and I say ‘Move over Obama, I’m ready to talk on the world.’ Other days, I feel like I don’t have the foggiest idea what I’m doing.”

The range of emotions adds drama to the workplace, especially in hair salons, says Olsen, where salon owners and stylists are dramatic and emotional by nature – they are dealing with the highly emotional topic of hair, after all. Olsen said with so many women in the workplace now, she believes the day has come where it’s really okay to talk about emotions.

The ups and downs of business are as real as the sky is blue. There are no constants, and so too with how people feel about their work and who they are as professionals.  Strong sales growth this quarter, not looking so good for next. Gave a great presentation this week, next month’s presentation has you paralyzed. Nailed the job interview, someone else got the job. The full spectrum is part of the territory. Woman or man, everyone has emotions, and those emotions change.

Don’t get defensive. For Olsen, her ability to get things done is determined by whether she gets defensive. She warns not to take things personally: “Stay calm and keep your mouth shut. Ask for and accept feedback. Learn and grow.”

Olsen admitted to the occasional inclination to get defensive. To manage this during a particular meeting in which she suspected she’d become defensive, she solicited the help of colleague who was to lift his hand discretely every time Olsen went on the defense. Sure enough, he waved at her twice. This kept her moving forward using non-defensive tactics in an otherwise challenging meeting.

Defensiveness is instinctual and critical to self-preservation. In the professional world, however, it is usually counterproductive. It looks bad, sounds bad and limits the ability to overcome the challenge at hand. Not getting defensive, though, is easier said than done. In that case, follow Olsen’s lead — find a way to accept the criticism (constructive or otherwise), learn from it, and keep moving forward to accomplish your objectives.

Olsen closed with this final piece of advice: “Learn to listen.  Listening is the most underrated skill in the world.”

And isn’t that the truth? Listening is something they begin teaching in preschool, and something most every successful business person must re-learn every day.


PR Disasters: 3rd Lesson — Apologize Carefully, Thoroughly (10/10/13)

Determining how, when and even if to apologize is both an art and a science. When something has gone wrong, a carefully timed and crafted apology that reflects genuine remorse, regret and empathy can quickly make things right. 

Conversely, sometimes an apology stirs up dust and can create more reputational damage than had no apology been made in the first place.

  • Beware of the non-apology. Non-apologies such as “We are sorry if anyone was offended,” can do more reputational harm than the original problem caused. Passive apologies are also dangerous: “Mistakes were made,” suggests a lack of accountability and that there is still no one accepting responsibility. 
  • Offer a full, unequivocal apology when appropriate. Many times, concerns about harm to a reputation may take priority over concerns about liability. It’s more advantageous to sincerely apologize and attempt to move forward in restoring trust in your organization than to remain silent.

Losing in the court of public opinion can prove more damaging long-term than losing in a court of law—lost sales, customers and confidence in a business can be much more costly than an unfavorable judgment and possible treble damages for an unrepentant defendant.

  • Consider whether an apology is even necessary.  Sometimes an organization can bring more attention to a matter that really required no apology in the first place, or the apology can incite an even more negative reaction than had no apology been offered.

For example, when Netflix apologized for a rate increase (including a recording via YouTube), it missed the concerns of the customer, and the apology itself ultimately became fodder for late night television.

Here’s how to determine whether an apology is needed:

  1. Did the organization do or say something that hurt others?
  2. Would the organization undo what occurred if it could?

And apology may be appropriate and needed if the answer to both questions is “yes.”

In Netflix’s case, they had no plans to reverse their decision to raise rates, but for some reason they felt like they needed to explain and apologize for it.

When your organization has a matter that may require an apology, consider carefully the content, timing and objectives to be achieved by issuing an apology. If the issue involves a legal matter or liability exposure, it’s important to also consult with an attorney to make sure any apology  is consistent with and supports the legal strategy.