Keynote Presentations

When crisis strikes, and you’re reaching for the company manual, it’s already too late. Building a thriving organization today involves many moving parts, but one issue that is often neglected is preparing for a real-world catastrophe that no one hopes for – and most prefer not to think about. In this presentation, Melissa Agnes helps organizations develop a crisis-ready strategy that really works. She teaches her audiences to think about – and prepare for – the unthinkable. Participants will learn what it means to create a crisis-ready culture and walk away with actionable items to implement.

  • Discover the new landscape for crisis management
  • Prepare for what you need to expect, deal with, overcome – all the while managing the actual event that caused the crisis
  • Understand stakeholder expectations
  • Obtain actionable items you can add to your program to be crisis-ready
  • Identify the right people for your crisis management governance structure
  • Learn how to react and respond under pressure
  • Be prepared to create the story before it creates you
  • Develop your best crisis strategy and executable plan
  • Draft powerful messaging and effective communication

Most leaders of organizations have plans stashed somewhere on a shelf that address potential organizational crises, but few organizations have built anticipation of those crises into their culture. You can't always prevent a crisis, but you can be prepared for it. In this essential presentation for every organization, Melissa Agnes shows audiences how to make crisis prevention an integral part of their corporate culture.

  • Identify needs that must come from the top down
  • Develop effective internal escalation protocols that work
  • Train and develop your staff to know how to respond with comfort and competence
  • Understand the fundamental differences between the terms Crisis and Issue
  • Implement the necessary steps for a crisis-ready culture
  • Empower employees to be crisis-ready and customer-focused
  • Learn how to make crisis prevention an integral part of the corporate culture

One of the unspoken fears of every executive team is the adequacy of the response to the cyber-attack, the toxic leak, the rogue employee, or the incident that threatens the integrity of the organization. How does a company come back from a disease outbreak like Chipotle or a systemic failure like Volkswagen or Wells Fargo? Too many teams put off thinking about the unthinkable. In this presentation, business teams learn today’s risks and how to prepare the entire organization to respond swiftly and professionally when disaster strikes. Through the examination of real-world case studies, learn actionable, implementable takeaways that will ensure your organization is crisis-ready.

  • Learn how to filter through the noise, and rise above it
  • Strategically leverage technology for today’s crisis management
  • Maintain control of communication and messaging during a crisis
  • Balance timeliness and accuracy in your crisis response
  • Incorporate issues management as an integral part of your daily process
  • Enable your team to know when and how to respond
  • Understand and meet stakeholder expectations in real-time
  • Develop a scalable, crisis-preparedness program

Every CIO knows today that his/her organization is one click away from a hack that could bring the financial integrity of the company down. And every IT team has spent time and money anticipating, preparing, and forestalling such attacks. But at a deeper level, every organization has to be ready to both support and respond to IT warfare with an organization-wide awareness and planning that few organizations understand, much less have accomplished. In this presentation, discover what it takes to prepare the whole organization to shoulder the burden that the IT team currently bears.

  • Understand the impact of a cybersecurity incident
  • Create accountability for everyone during a cybersecurity crisis
  • Embed awareness and preparedness into the organization's corporate culture
  • Develop company-wide communication and know how
  • Implement an internal escalation process that enables quick escalation, while mitigating the risk of unnecessary escalation
  • Identify the link (and difference) between an IT incident response plan and a corporate cybersecurity crisis management plan


Melissa Agnes

Meet Melissa Agnes

When you pop a champagne cork, the bubbles of carbon dioxide form at tiny defects in the glass, join together, and explode upward when enough pressure builds. Crises usually start small the same way – and explode when the pressure builds to the breaking point. President and Co-Founder of Agnes + Day Inc., Melissa Agnes has helped dozens of global brands and government agencies deal with crises before that explosion, preventing and managing a wide range of issues before they become catastrophic. Her client list includes financial organizations, technology companies, healthcare organizations, government agencies, cities and municipalities, energy companies, global non-profits, and many others. She is the author of the long-awaited book Crisis Ready: Building An Invincible Brand In An Uncertain World.

An effervescent personality herself, Melissa is a sought-after international crisis management keynote speaker. She travels the world speaking to organizations and audiences including NATO, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Foreign Defense, Ministries of Health, as well as a wide range of private and public companies, universities and non-profit organizations. She has had the honor of sharing the stage with members of the Ukraine government and the International Committee of the Red Cross. A go-to source for the press, Melissa's recent press coverage includes Forbes, WSJ, VIBE Magazine, USA Today and more. Melissa is also a regular guest on the leading morning radio talk show, CJAD, where she is referred to as "the official crisis manager of the Tommy Schnurmacher show".

Melissa sits on the Board of Directors for the Online Reputation and Brand Protection Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing businesses with education, solutions, and advocacy to help them protect their reputations and brand online. She is also the editor of the highly acclaimed crisis intelligence blog, and the host of the internationally recognized #CrisisReady Podcast. Published regularly and followed by government agencies and Fortune companies alike, her blog, videos and podcast provide insights to help organizations manage issues and crises in this modern era.


“Melissa's keynote presentation was an excellent start to a quite successful event. Thanks for the superb kickoff."

Ted Whiteside, Acting Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy NATO HQ

"We brought together our legal, PR, communications, digital and staff engagement teams for nearly two days. Melissa guided our topics in such an engaging way driving us to tap what we already knew and to discover what was lacking in our current process and guidelines. This training session brought us together in such an effective way that not one person regretted the commitment we made to learn. Thank you, Melissa, for bringing a complex topic to us in a way that encouraged debate, hands-on experience and helped us make decisions."

Jan Walther, YMCA of the USA

"Melissa was well prepared, great on her feet, thoughtfully challenging, superbly engaging and displayed a depth of knowledge that gave her high credibility. Additionally, she made the session stimulating and fun. Her thought-provoking presentation style spurred exceptional dialogue between the participants that attended our global crisis communications network meeting. Her insight and knowledge of the digital landscape opened our eyes to alternative communications approaches when dealing with a crisis."

Jeff Martin, The Dow Chemical Company

"Melissa proved to be highly effective in helping Domtar modernize its crisis management plan in the age of social media. While the fundamentals of good crisis management remain the same, Melissa helped us internalize how social media accelerates the speed and scope of how information is shared and public impressions are formed. As a result, we are better prepared to leverage the benefits of social media in a crisis situation, while avoiding mistakes and minimizing risks. Melissa accomplished this with a critical review of our procedures and plans, a customized exercise that engaged our entire team, and a thoughtful assessment of areas for continued improvement."

David B. Struhs, Vice President, Corporate Services

"We took Melissa’s visit to South Korea as an opportunity to discuss crisis communication with embassies with which we have close contact in Seoul. Crisis communication is of utmost importance in our environment, as tension between South and North Korea fluctuates on a weekly basis. Melissa was able to lead the discussion on various crisis communication strategies where she provided the benefits and the disadvantages of each. She introduced many of the diplomates to various new communication tools and strategies that could be implemented when communicating with our citizens in South Korea. Her command of the subject, as well as her presentation skills were phenomenal, and each embassy representative commented on the high value she brought to the discussion. Her presentation was a catalyst which enabled discussion on the creation and application of common communication strategies in crisis situations, by embassies in Seoul."

Charles Longtin, Counsellor (Management) and Consul at Global Affairs Canada, South Korea

"Melissa Agnes accepted my invitation to present a webinar for the Public Relations Institute of Australia. Melissa was great: easy to work with; organized; passionate about her material – “Absolutely brilliant webinar, really useful and practical,” commented one attendee; and generous with her time and resources, freely inviting the audience to download her proprietary Issues Management Response Flow Chart. Not only, but the 12:00 noon webinar in Sydney meant that Melissa started her broadcast at 9:00pm in Montreal, with a terrible cough which she worked hard to suppress. A true professional!"

Julian Kenny, Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA)

"I cannot speak highly enough about the quality of the presentation Melissa delivered and about the engagement it generated both on location and on social media. Melissa reminded us that best practices and a deep understanding of current realities can make a crisis work for you rather than against you. Her case studies and practical examples span across industries and got the room thinking and exchanging well beyond our physical location. IABC members in Ottawa, Toronto and Melbourne, Australia followed the event and interacted with us on social media. A must-attend training!”

Maria Constantinescu, President IABC/Montreal

"Melissa is energetic, insightful and fun! I loved her session. It was one of the best of the CPRS National Summit this year. And all the sessions were tremendous, so this is high praise, well deserved."

Dr. Lydia Boyko, Conference Attendee

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