Are Houstonians Really In This Together?

The following essay was first published in the Houston Chronicle on March 29, 2020.  As I try to cope during this pandemic, I do so with less conviction that Houstonians really are all in this together. Increasingly, it’s your pocketbook ranking that determines ease of access to a host of daily perks and, in a … Read more

Hold Saudis accountable for Khashoggi’s murder

The following Op-Ed was first published in the Houston Chronicle on December 12, 2018. I have long advocated for close ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and have defended Saudi practices and norms to those unfamiliar with the Kingdom. But not now. The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi assassins, and President Trump’s woeful response, compel me … Read more

Remembering a Night of Violence

Violence is bad for business. That view, held by a handful of Houston’s business and political leaders in the early 1960s, contributed to the peaceful integration of Houston’s lunch counters that decade. One business leader at the time, Bob Dundas Sr., was acutely aware of mayhem resulting from racial tensions. He was a teenager in the summer … Read more

Exemplary Leaders Know to Care

Americans have long placed a high premium on their business, political and military leaders being tough and hard-nosed, or at least appearing so.  While blatantly weak leadership is obviously not virtuous, behavioral values associated with compassion don’t seem nearly as highly valued for leaders in our society. And yet, in my various supervisory roles in … Read more

Tragedy in West – Part II

After the tragic explosion at the West Fertilizer Company (WFC) in April, 2013, I wrote that it would take months for experts to conclude what went wrong at the facility in West, Texas (see “Initial Observations on West Communications”). Now, nearly three years later, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has completed its … Read more

Backyard Energy

A critical aspect of the pervasiveness of hydraulic fracturing is that the production of oil and gas directly affects the lives of millions of Americans.  Until recently, the business of finding and extracting oil and gas largely was conducted out of sight and out of mind for the vast majority of Americans.  Today, the hunt … Read more

PR Men Who Shaped Houston

A new book due out later this month describes the tenacity of one public relations man in the late 1950s who played a pivotal role in birthing Houston’s iconic domed stadium. During that same time period across town, a hard-charging PR executive at Foley’s Department Store quietly arranged racial integration of downtown lunch counters. These … Read more

Need for SSPEED and Centennial Gate

Five years ago today Hurricane Ike struck the Texas Gulf Coast, taking more than two dozen souls and causing the fourth most costly storm in U.S. history. But the fact is, very little has been done structurally since then to improve our region’s readiness for the next big storm. Rice University’s severe storm research group, … Read more

Why Crises Differ

All crises are not created equally. Some company mishaps slip quickly out of view while others linger on at high cost for months and months.  Explanations for the different outcomes can sometimes be found in the actions or inactions of the afflicted company. But frequently it’s the actions of third parties that seize upon somebody else’s misfortune … Read more

Initial Observations on West Communications

Emergency responders and crisis communicators will for months be sifting through the aftermath of the West Fertilizer Company tragedy near Waco in search of clues and lessons learned.  Firm conclusions regarding communication matters cannot yet be drawn, but here are some initial observations. Don’t be last to issue a statement. Be among the first when … Read more