Author Archives

Chris Atkins

Chris Atkins is an author, speaker and communications consultant with 35 years of PR agency and in-house experience.

Chris was Managing Director for all internal and external communications for PricewaterhouseCoopers. With nearly nine billion in revenues and 30,000 employees, PwC (US) is the largest of the “Big Four” accounting firms. He joined PwC after five years at Standard & Poor’s, where he was responsible for all communications for credit ratings and indices such as the S&P 500. He was at the forefront of S&P’s crisis response regarding the role of credit ratings in the financial meltdown. Before joining S&P, he spent 26 years at several major public relations agencies. He was Managing Director of the Global Corporate Practices at Ogilvy Public Relations and Ketchum, counseling clients such as FedEx, the New York Stock Exchange and GE. While at Ketchum, Chris founded the Ketchum Reputation Lab, which used the 20+ year data set from Fortune Magazine’s “America’s Most Admired Corporations” survey to develop an analytical tool to inform communications strategy.

Chris also served as Chief Operating Officer of the New York office of Burson-Marsteller, and was a Vice President in the Corporate Group at Hill & Knowlton. A frequent speaker and guest lecturer at NYU and Columbia on the topic of crisis preparedness and response, Chris was named by PR Week as one of the “20 crisis counselors CEOs should have in their speed-dialer.”

Chris is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, and a trustee of the Institute for Public Relations. He is the co-author of a book on corporate reputation called Image Wars: Protecting Your Company When There’s No Place to Hide, (1989, John Wiley & Sons) and “An Honest Day’s Work,” to be published in the fall of 2014. He lives with his wife, Lauren Letellier, in Manhattan and Hillsdale, NY.

“Have We Got a Deal For You!”

  When United Airlines gets tired of mugging its customers, they’ve always got their employees to batter. The latest news out of the Sears…er…Willis Tower (sorry, I still call 200 Park Avenue the Pan Am building) is that United’s executive brain trust tried to eliminate a longstanding performance […]


For Whom the Bell Tolls

Over the years, several of the agencies at which I worked took on controversial clients. Whether it was Big Tobacco or the Fur Council or Big Pharma to name a few, the argument has always been that any client deserves representation. We help them tell their stories and […]


“I don’t think we’re ever going to lose money again.”

  How many CEOs wish they could say that? (Answer: All of them.) How many CEOs actually would say that, even to themselves, let alone in an investor meeting? At least one. In September, that’s what came out of the mouth of Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, […]


Shifting the Deck Chairs on the S.S. Wells Fargo

About 20 years ago, I was speaking with a former agency colleague who was then the head of PR for a large bank. I was recounting a problem I had experienced with my own bank. My friend sighed and said, “You know, I am always surprised by how […]


Hey! United Airlines! Just What the Hell is Wrong With You?

The 27-month-old boy sprawled across his mother, both under one seatbelt, and the elbow of the stand-by passenger who was given the child’s fully paid seat.    I thought I was done with United Airlines as a topic. I was wrong. It has been more than two months since […]


“Our Plant in Peoria Just Blew Up. Fire the PR Team.”

    I try not to stray into politics in this blog, but I feel compelled to comment on something I read in the New York Times yesterday. Evidently, President Trump has been blaming his travails on bad PR. If his PR team were not incompetent, none of […]


American Airlines 1, United Airlines nil. And still we all lose.

It has been a bad couple of weeks for America’s airlines. First was the incident at United, where a passenger was assaulted and dragged off the plane by airport security. Yesterday, on American Airlines, a flight attendant “following the rules” barely missed clocking an infant when he yanked […]


Sure, United has a PR problem. But that’s not the real problem.

  Is this a PR problem? The videos and photos of this 69-year-old physician being dragged up the aisle of an airplane with less care than most people give to their roller bags will not fade from the public memory anytime soon. Nor should they. The security personnel who […]


Where’s Lou Grant When You Need Him?

The other night I was in the mood for a tale of political espionage that didn’t involve the current administration, so I re-watched “All the President’s Men.” The 1976 thriller, based on the Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein bestseller, follows the two then-young Washington Post reporters and their […]


Villain or Victim? (Why do we have to choose?)

  (Some random ramblings on the PwC Oscar Affair) Next post, I’ll tackle the “Live by the sword, die by…” Well, you know. The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Oscar affair shows no signs of losing its position as a top-trending fixation for millions. The latest news about “envelope-gate” is that […]