This is the sixth episode of “Interviews with Lynn” a seven-part series from Culloton + Bauer Luce on the issues facing public affairs and crisis management practitioners and their clients.

Lynn Holley, senior consultant at CBL and a former financial news anchor, interviews founding partners Dennis Culloton and Natalie Bauer Luce. These communications strategists offer a behind the scenes glimpse of guiding clients through all manner of crises from global pandemics to boardroom scandals. They’ve helped clients navigate cultural changes and political turmoil with an eye toward rebuilding reputations and renewing purpose.


Lynn Holley (LH): Let me ask you what’s the difference between an issue engagement and a crisis engagement?

Dennis Culloton (DC): Well an issue to me is just a crisis case that everybody was smart enough to spot before it turned into a crisis, so that’s that’s how I
kind of look at the two different sorts of projects that we get. If someone that comes to us and says we’ve got  a tough hill to climb here and we’re going to need a trail guy that’s an issue case.

Conversely, when you know the the building’s already fully involved then you’ve got a crisis case. I’ve mixed a lot of metaphors, but I think you get the point. What do you think Natalie?

Natalie Bauer Luce (NBL): I tend to think about it in terms of needing something from a particular entity or institution whether it’s the government, a regulatory agency or community groups. If you need something from them if you’re asking them for something that’s an issue campaign or an advocacy campaign.

If they are coming after you, a government entity, a regulatory agency or a community group it’s that you’ve screwed something up and that’s a crisis campaign.
In some cases can be both too.