crisis communication, leadership, communication
Joe Carberry speaking at the University of San Francisco

By Brandon Keller

Joe Carberry, Senior VP and Head of Communications at Charles Schwab, visited the University of San Francisco’s Master of Arts in Professional Communication program last week as part of the Speaker Series. He also served as Former VP of Global Communications at eBay and Former Head of Global Public Affairs for Visa.

The MAPC Speakers Series hosts leaders from various sectors of the communication industry. These events take place during select evenings throughout the Fall and Spring semesters. Engaging with somebody who has the experience and expertise of Joe Carberry is one of the best ways that students in our program learn the skills, wisdom, and insights that shape effective professional communicators.

There is always more to learn about a subject than what’s offered in a textbook, and our graduate program gives students opportunities to learn directly from the trendsetters who shape today’s nuanced and sophisticated communications industry. Our events have featured leaders from crisis, business, media, PR, government, and many other forms of professional communication. Joe Carberry is highly skilled in crisis communication, and he effectively helps Charles Schwab build trust with their clients and the general public.

Below are some of the takeaways from Joe Carberry’s evening with MAPC students.

Trust is earned – corporate communications in a distrusting environment

  • “When you’re a communicator, your audience is made of human beings.”
  • Saying “you should trust us” isn’t how you earn trust. You earn trust for your organization by building a reputation with actions and shared values with your audience.
  • There is a crisis of trust in the world right now. People trust the government and news media less, so audiences trust who they know through shared values and quality of character.

Companies like his do well because they are doing something right

  • “The brain doesn’t work a lot differently for organizations than it does for people.”
  • “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
  • Constantly practice trust and relationship building activities through actions and not just words.

What makes a crisis?

  • An organization’s prospects are threatened in the eyes of its critical stakeholders.
  • What a crisis is isn’t always the truth; it’s what your stakeholders think it is.
  • “If you have not thought about what you would do in a crisis, you already failed.”

Do the right things

  • How would you explain what you’re doing at your company to your mom? If your mom approves, you’re doing the right thing.
  • “Work with a clock rather than a calendar when dealing with a crisis.” Respond to crisis situations as quickly as possible.
  • “Some companies are tone deaf. If you say x is important, show that x is important.” Plus, have a 360 degree view of a situation in order to anticipate reactions.

What do stakeholders want to hear?

  • You’ve stopped the bleeding – make sure the problem is no longer actively occurring.
  • You’re making amends – address the impact of the crisis (not the same as taking blame).
  • It’ll never happen again – take steps to prevent recurrence.

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