This issue of Communication Command contains an interview about the Center for Media Innovation (CMI) at Point Park University and an article about "What Biden's First 100 Days In Office Mean For Your Organization." We hope you will enjoy our newsletter.

Spring 2021
Our COVID-19 Response 
C4CS® is working with clients across sectors on a wide range of strategic communication and crisis management tasks including responding to COVID-19.
The expert interview on the right sheds light on our collaboration with the Center for Media Innovation (CMI) at Point Park University and how its director, Dr. Andrew Conte, and his colleagues have responded to pandemic-related challenges.
Our article about "What Biden's First 100 Days In Office Mean For Your Organization" discusses new developments in regard to COVID-19 response, labor unions, infrastructure, and energy and climate that impact our clients. The piece is available below the expert interview.
We are getting ready to conduct a number of presentations. Event information and registration instructions are included in the announcements on the left of this newsletter.
If you have questions for our team or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please send an email to
Crisis Management & Monitoring Webinar
C4CS® President and CEO, Oliver S. Schmidt, will present a webinar on “Effective Internet & Media Monitoring in the Context of Crisis Management” for The International Consortium for Organizational Resilience (ICOR) at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.
More information and registration instructions are available here.
If your organization would like to have a C4CS® team member make a presentation or participate in a panel discussion, please reach out to us at
Crisis Communication Webinar CLE Class
C4CS® Vice President Anne Linaberger and KDKA-TV's Jon Delano will conduct a Continuing Legal Education webinar class on "Crisis Communication: Safeguarding Reputation, Trust, and the Bottom Line" for the Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA) on Thursday, May 13, 2021.
Please click here for additional information and registration instructions.

If your company would like to have a C4CS® team member develop a class, conduct an online training, or discuss an executive coaching session, please reach out to us at
Active Shooter Webinar
C4CS® President and CEO Oliver S. Schmidt and Orvel Ronk, owner of Ronk Security Solutions, are joining forces to deliver an open-access webinar on "Crisis Management: Why You Need Active Shooter Training" that will highlight key crisis management concepts and shed light on active shooter readiness, response, and indispensable training.
The presentation will happen at noon on Thursday, June 3, 2021.
More information and registration instructions are available via this link.
Presentation Skills for Attorneys CLE Class
C4CS® Vice President Anne Linaberger will conduct a Continuing Legal Education webinar class on "Presentation Skills for Attorneys" for the Westmoreland Bar Association (WBA) at noon on Thursday, June 10, 2021.
Additional information and registration instructions are available here.
If your bar association, law firm, or in-house legal team would like to have C4CS® develop a class, conduct an online training, or discuss a Continuing Legal Education class, please reach out to us at
Media Training Client Testimonial 
C4CS® has received lots of positive client feedback since our start in 1998. However, this video clip posted by a recent media training participant is special. Thank you, Kyle. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in the future.
If your organization would
like to receive information about our media interview and spokesperson group training or one-on-one executive media skills coaching, please send an email to
E4 Carolinas Communications Seminar Series
C4CS® Senior Vice President, Dianne Chase, is leading a series of communications seminars for E4 Carolinas. In the first presentation of the year, she interviews Ukwori Ejibe, a global communications expert, about the crisis communication response to the pandemic. View the seminar recording on YouTube for insights and lessons learned in "COVID Communications: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly."
Our team offers a number of training programs to E4 Carolinas members and other companies. Please click on this link for additional information and contact us at if you have questions.
New Partner Company
C4CS® welcomes Expedient, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a new partner company. Expedient helps clients transform their IT operations through award-winning, multi-cloud solutions and managed services including disaster recovery, security and compliance, and enterprise cloud.
If you would like to see a partial list of our partner companies, please click here.
IABC Ethics In A Box Workshop
C4CS® Senior Vice President and former IABC International Executive Board Chair, Dianne Chase, contributed an article about the “Ethics in a Box” Workshop, which was created as a toolkit to help IABC members and other communication professionals learn how best to address ethical dilemmas and focus on the critical conversations increasingly impacting the communications profession. The toolkit provides for facilitated, interactive role play and discussions around real-world ethical situations in the workplace.
For additional information and in case of questions, please contact us at
Crisis & Social Media
e-Learning Course
Professionals interested in our e-Learning course on "Harnessing the Power of Social Media in a Crisis" may download the course brochure via this link.
Congratulations to those who completed the course work and obtained a Certificate in Social Media Crisis Management Planning accredited by ICOR.
If you have questions concerning our e-Learning course, please contact us at
Past e-Newsletter Issues
Please click here if you would like to access past issues of our Communication Command e-Newsletter, which reaches professionals in several dozen countries.
What the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University Has Been Doing to Become More Successful During and Following the Pandemic

A conversation with Dr. Andrew Conte, the Director of the Center for Media Innovation (CMI) at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Center for Media Innovation is a C4CS® Partner.
Dr. Andrew Conte
What has been your professional path to leading the Center for Media Innovation (CMI) at Point Park University?
I discovered in college that I wanted to work in journalism, and I dedicated the early part of my career to working in newsrooms. After graduating from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, I worked for Scripps Howard in Stuart, Florida, and Cincinnati, Ohio before coming back home to work for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. I also dabbled in broadcast by doing some reporting for WTAE-TV and guest hosting at 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR station.
While I worked as a journalist in Pittsburgh, I also taught journalism at the University of Pittsburgh and then later at Point Park University.
Increasingly concerned about the direction of local journalism in Pittsburgh and nationwide, I worked with Point Park University to create the Center for Media Innovation (CMI) in 2016. The Allegheny Foundation provided the initial $2.5 million startup grant, and I came on board as the founding director. The Center serves as a laboratory for developing sustainable forms of local storytelling, often with community engagement.
The CMI leads the Pittsburgh Media Partnership, which brings together more than 20 local news outlets to work on collaborative reporting projects, such as their ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Our McKeesport Community Newsroom brings citizens into the narrative process with a writers’ group, photography collective and podcasting. We recently awarded $27,500 in fellowship grants to reporters working across the United States, including Sunnie Clahchischiligi, who will be writing about educational challenges in the Navajo Nation.

CMI and C4CS® are offering innovative and fully customizable media skills and spokesperson training in partnership. When do you think corporate, government, and nonprofit clients will go back to on-camera media training and spokesperson skills coaching at the CMI? 

The CMI hosts state-of-the art television, radio, and photography studios in downtown Pittsburgh. While the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented us from working in person over the past year, it has created new challenges and opportunities for engaging with media. At the CMI, we have shifted to producing more online content, and even creating content via video-chat for broadcasting Our Region’s Business, a weekly talk show on WPXI-TV.
As education and training for professionals also have shifted to online platforms, the CMI and C4CS collaborated with the Pittsburgh chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) to present a crisis communication event in March that attracted business communicators from Pittsburgh and across the country.
We expect to have in-person events by the start of the fall semester in late August. We already have lined up one nonprofit client to engage in on-camera media training in our TV studio in partnership with C4CS. In addition, we have heard from other nonprofit organizations, as well as several companies and government contacts who are interested in our media skills and spokesperson training. The on-camera media skills-building sessions are fully customizable and will be conducted at the CMI by expert trainers from the CMI and C4CS. The training brochure we put together is also available online.

Do you think that virtual media skills and spokesperson training will continue to play a role once the pandemic in under control?

We have learned from the pandemic that people who speak with the media must be flexible in many ways. They always have needed to be prepared for in-person, on-camera interviews, and now we know they also must be ready to talk on video-chat platforms. That seems simple after people have engaged in so many virtual meetings. However, big differences exist between appearing on video-chat for TV versus simply attending a meeting.
We all can use a little coaching on how to improve our video-chat settings and appearance for television. For example on television, spokespeople must have an interesting, uncluttered background, good lighting on their faces, plain clothing that does not distract, and a quiet, uninterrupted space.
Even after the pandemic, online and broadcast news outlets will expect to connect with people via video chat when they cannot connect in person. These are the kinds of skills we plan to offer with C4CS both in-person and on virtual platforms, adapting to fit the needs of professionals no matter where and when they are called upon to communicate.

What have been the biggest challenges and opportunities for CMI since the beginning of the pandemic?

The day after Pennsylvania shut down, we had planned to host 150+ high school students and teachers on campus. Obviously, we had to cancel that event. Rather than do nothing, my team and I gathered to brainstorm and we came up with a series of video chats with news makers, journalists, faculty, and other high school students doing journalism. We quickly pulled the shows together and rolled them out over a nine-week period. Those videos drew in more than 10,000 viewers. This proved that while the pandemic would present challenges, it also created opportunities.
We often talk about innovative strategies for communications, and the pandemic forced us to put those ideas into action in ways that we previously thought were too difficult or time consuming. Like the high school outreach program, we learned that some of these ideas would open us up to new audiences. For instance, we recently hosted a workshop on how to use TikTok for marketing, and we had participants from New York and Florida. Previously, if we had held an event like that in person, we would not have reached such a wide, diverse audience. We have learned to make sure we use hybrid tactics – in-person and online – for our future programming.

Do you and your colleagues have plans for the future of the CMI that you can share with us today?

My colleagues and I are looking forward to expanding our partnership with C4CS by offering more in-person and online opportunities for crisis communication and on-camera media interview practice. We had planned to roll this out in a big way before the pandemic, and we are excited to get it going now.
We also are planning to resume our training workshops, events, and speaker series. We put the Media Innovators Speaker Series on hold because of the pandemic and the inability to gather in person. We will be back in the Pittsburgh Playhouse with leading news makers and media innovators by this fall.

What Biden's First 100 Days In Office Mean For Your Organization
How We Can Help To Position You For Success In A World Of Change
As President Joe Biden marks his first 100 days in office, now is the time to take stock of how the administration’s flurry of new policies and future pledges could affect your organization, and how C4CS® can help your company respond and thrive.

COVID-19 Response
The president’s biggest focus in his first 100 days was on COVID-19; and, many of his policies have or will have a direct impact on employees and employers.
In January, the president recommended that all employers revisit their COVID-19 workplace safety policies and outlined a list of specific issues organizations should address when making sure workers are cared for and protected. At that time, we recommended that companies involve their employees in evaluating and crafting related policies.
While the president only shared recommendations early in the year, we predicted that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was likely to issue an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 worker safety, thereby making the recommendations enforceable. This has become more likely now that Doug Parker is the president’s appointment to head OSHA. Parker is currently the head of OSHA in California, one of five states that have already published a COVID-19 temporary standard.
More recently, President Biden called on employers to offer incentives to workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The recommended incentives range from financial rewards like gift cards, to paid time off to get the vaccination or recover from any side effects. He also suggested that the government will provide special tax credits to companies with fewer than 500 employees to help cover the cost.

Our recommendation: if you have not already revamped your COVID-19 workplace safety plan, now is the time to do it – before the recommendations become enforceable. Develop and implement solutions to ensure effective employee communication and take the recommendations our firm has been making since the beginning of the pandemic into consideration. And, if offering incentives for employees to become vaccinated fits your company’s culture, go for it.

Labor Unions
The president has made support of labor unions a top agenda item and his actions have demonstrated this. His Labor Secretary, Marty Walsh, is a former top union leader and more than two dozen leaders from the nation’s top labor unions have served on the president’s agency review teams. Biden has also committed to passing the Protecting the Right to Organize or “PROAct” that expands workers’ collective bargaining rights. The recent defeat of an effort to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama should not take the issue off the radar for organizations that employ unionized workers, as well as those whose non-union workers could be ripe for organizing in the future.
Our recommendation: internal communications, thorough internet and media monitoring, and comprehensive scenario planning are key. If your company employs union workers, it is time to reevaluate your relationship with your employees and their union representatives. What can you do to improve that relationship? If your organization employs workers who might be keen to organize, what are you doing to listen to and address their concerns, especially in the face of pandemic stresses.

The president’s 2 Trillion dollar infrastructure plan would fix highways, rebuild bridges, upgrade ports, airports, and transit systems, eliminate lead piping in water systems and upgrade the nation’s wireless system. This could be a major boon if your organization is a construction company for instance. But uncertainty about how the work will be paid for and who will get it is leading to concern within some industries. For example, Politico reports providers who specialize in alternative ways to get online – like 5G – are worried that the plan may focus on traditional fiber optic cable, shutting them out.
Our recommendation: there is plenty of Congressional negotiating to be done before “shovels hit dirt.” But, we believe now is the time to begin thinking about where your organization fits in. Should you be lobbying? Will you need additional investment to be ready? Proper preparation will allow you to position your organization to take advantage – or avoid being left out.
Energy & Climate
The president announced ambitious plans at his recent international Summit on Climate at the White House that could present challenges for some energy producers and manufacturers and opportunities for others. Just hours before the summit, the White House formally announced a new commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030, while calling on other world leaders to join in achieving this goal. It is no secret that coal and power plants will be in the cross hairs, while renewable energy producers could see more opportunities.

Our recommendation: again, there is much more work to be done – and lawmakers in coal producing states like West Virginia are already threatening to sue to stop this initiative. That gives companies time to think about how to react and take advantage of potential changes when it comes to climate.
A lot has happened in the first 100 days of the Biden administration and one thing is for sure: more change will come. Our team is ready to provide professional consulting and training across such disciplines as strategic communication, issues management, and crisis management. Whether you need a plan for employee and change communication, help tracking a legislative or regulatory issue, assistance with external messaging, or guidance regarding the response to a labor issue, please contact us at
Food For Thought

“In this era of social media and instant global communications, business leaders find it increasingly difficult to hide in the shadows. CEOs are more visible now and their silence on various public issues can at times be deafening.”

Leslie Gaines-Ross, former Chief Reputation Strategist at Weber Shandwick


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and Crisis Management