Gina Furia Rubel | How to Communicate in a Crisis – Lessons for Covid-19

Gina Furia Rubel is the Founder and CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, a leading national public relations and marketing agency that helps top businesses and law firms with high-stakes public relations, reputation management, crisis planning, and incident response, including high profile litigation media relations. Furia Rubel Communications has been named number one legal marketing agency by the National Law Journal and by The Legal Intelligencer in the areas of legal marketing, legal folk relations, cross communication, and social media.

Gina Furia Rubel graduated with a BS in Communications and International Business from Drexel University, and she earned her J.D. Law from Widener University Commonwealth Law School. Her legal background complements her unparalleled intuition as a client advocate and business diplomat. She served on a Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board Hearing Committee for 6 years and is a sought-after speaker and media expert.

In this episode, John Corcoran shares a recording of a live interview he did with Gina Furia Rubel who shares her best strategies for communicating effectively during a crisis, what to avoid posting on social media, and why businesses should be empathetic to their stay at home employees.


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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Learn:

  • How business should be communicating with their stakeholders given today’s unusual situation
  • What businesses are saying in light of the current health crisis and why they should show empathy to their stay-at-home employees
  • Why businesses need to review their scheduled social media posts and unrelated content before posting
  • Gina Furia Rubel’s advice to companies seeking to communicate effectively
  • Why companies need to pivot and reinvent their business plans during times of crisis
  • How people can take advantage of their downtime to seek opportunities
  • Where to learn more about Gina Furia Rubel

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

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Episode Transcript

John Corcoran  00:40

All right. Welcome everyone. John Corcoran here and I’m very excited today because, I’m the host of the smart business revolution podcast and I get to talk with CEOs founders, entrepreneurs of companies and organizations like YPO, eo Activision Blizzard, lending tree, Open Table, x software and many more. I’m also the co-founder of rice. Five where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. But usually when I’m doing those interviews, they’re not live and I don’t get to take other people’s questions. But today we’re doing this one live, which is always fun. So I’m going to try and take questions as we’re doing this as it goes along. And I’m excited because my guest today is Gina Rubel who is the founder of Furial Rubel Communications, which is a leading National Public Relations and Marketing Agency, helping top businesses and law firms with high stakes, public relations, reputation management, crisis planning and incident response, good new high profile litigation, media relations, never more relevant than it is today, given everything that’s happening in the world today as we do this live in near the end of March 2020.

And we have the Coronavirus pandemic, which is kind of unfolding and appending all of our lives including my own, which is why I have my three year old over in the corner hairs tried hopefully they stay quiet during this while we do this. So also if your ruble has been named number on legal marketing agency by the National Law Journal and By the legal Intelligencer in the areas of legal marketing, legal folk relations cross munication and social media and that’s my background as a lawyer. So I’m interested to hear about how Gina has made that into a company. First, before we get into that this episode is brought to you by rise25 media which I co-founded with my business partner, Dr. Jeremy Weiss, and our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners and customers and we do that through our done for you podcast solution. I believe if you have a business, he’s keeping himself busy over there. If you have a business, you should have a podcast period. One of the best things I’ve done you can learn more at So, first, Gina First of all, thanks so much for being here. It’s an honor to have you. And I wanted to take your advice here a little bit on how businesses should be responding, what they should be doing with their customers, how they should be communicating, you know, given this historically unusual situation that we’re in, you know, How do they even approach what we’re doing right now? What should they what should businesses be thinking about?


Gina Furia Rubel  03:06

You know, john, it’s interesting, it’s there’s been this wave kind of coming from both sides of the country, you know, both coasts are pretty much shut down. And now it’s starting to ripple into the center and how we were communicating a week ago is different, at least on the coastal cities than it is as we are this week. The time for crisis planning has passed. Now it’s assuring reassuring clients, customers and employees about where they stand. I think one of one of the things I have found a little off putting is the language business as usual. It’s not usual. This is not usual for any of us and it’s, in fact, it’s business unusual and even so many firms are or companies are afraid to say, you know, we’re all dealing with this too. Rather, it’s a word, we’re up and running, and we’re fine. And everybody’s working from home and we’ve got your back. And that’s the reassuring message, but we’re not fine. And we’re all learning to navigate these new waters for as long as we’re going to have to together. And there is uncertainty. And when you start to see the messages that have the empathy, I’m finding that people are responding better to those because the richest, the wealthiest, the most popular, they’re getting hit too. This is not this isn’t a virus that only hits a certain population. everyone and everyone is at risk. And everyone and anyone and everyone is going to be facing the same challenges of being and I don’t like using the word quarantine because you’re not quarantined until you actually have been either diagnosed or exposed. But we are in stay at home mode throughout the country. Great, great. So we’re all there. We’re all facing the same things. address that.


John Corcoran  05:16

Are you seeing a lot of companies that are the How are they saying they’re just saying business, as usual, we’re up and running, we’re fine.


Gina Furia Rubel  05:24

It’s not so much that but you know, we’re working it is business as usual. We, you know, everyone’s working from home. And it’s just that there’s a tone about it, when it needs to start with. We understand that we’re all got we’re all in this together. Right. And while we are working from home, there may be some delays in our response. It’s okay. And it’s really the first unprecedented time where it has been okay to show empathy. It’s okay then Your three year old is behind you today. It’s okay that my dogs are outside barking. It’s just what it is. This is where we are. And it’s not just you, it’s Elon degenerates. You know, it’s, it’s every


John Corcoran  06:12

Jimmy Kimmel, you know, all the late night shows is it’s humanizing in a sense, you know,


Gina Furia Rubel  06:17

it really is humanizing, and it’s for the, for the people who are very used to the traditional corporate communications that are perfectly structured. I have a friend who works at a company who was told that they have to wear business casual for their internal employees zoom meetings every day.



And I really, like


John Corcoran  06:47

from the waist up right or


Gina Furia Rubel  06:51

it was ridiculous. Yeah. And you think about that you have to wear I mean, I’m, I knew we were going to be taping today. So I put on a nice jacket, I mean jeans and sneakers, let’s face it. And it’s that idea that we have become humanized. And this is real and we’re all real people. We all wake up a mess, nobody looks perfect in the morning. And if you’re sitting there and you have to get down on the floor and play with your three-year-old, you’re not going to be in a three piece suit. Right? So it’s really the empathy and the quality of the way we present ourselves. That being said, I am enjoying creating a better routine with within the confines of what we’re dealing with so that I feel productive throughout the day. So I get up I get on my peloton, I shower I put perfume on. I’m sitting here by myself, nobody smells it but me but I feel better. Yeah,


John Corcoran  07:52

and that’s a really is a critical, that’s really good I’ve seen a number of people advise that just psychologically, you know, don’t stay Your sweats all day, don’t stay in your pajamas all day, you know, psychologically, it’s going to do damage to actually putting, you know, actually getting dressed actually taking it seriously. I’ve been I took my kids down to the waterfront near my house and, you know, we were running around throwing rocks and stuff like that just trying to get some fresh air and exercise since a normalcy, you know. And then another thing that you’ve written about talked about is the importance of pausing unrelated content. I’m sure everyone has seen this. You know, I’ve seen emails they’ve come out, I’ve seen, you know, Facebook ads even, or people sharing content. That’s, I mean, it’s just unbelievable. Like they’re like, as if nothing has changed the world is the way it was a month ago. And that’s probably when they scheduled it to be posted, right? Yeah.


Gina Furia Rubel  08:47

Reviewing scheduled posts at this time is critical to not coming off as tone deaf, and we’ve all received them and I think the receiving audience is going to be a little bit more forgiving. As well right now, but it’s really important to understand that that stuff needs to be paused on the other side of that. I did a podcast interview with the editor in chief of American loyal American lawyer media global brands a few days ago, Gina passarella. And she said, interestingly enough, while Coronavirus content is top of mind for everyone, they still do want to be getting information about other things happening in businesses and in from the legal field. And I am hearing that from other members of the media as well. So while it’s not necessarily the time to say, hey, look, we promoted 10 people this week, because that will fall on deaf ears. If you’re doing something different if your company is giving back. If you have found a way to be more productive, in your work from home, universe, if there’s some information that You can share as a business with a greater audience that’s going to help them to weather this storm. By all means, reach out to the media. So understand you can still it doesn’t have to be completely all Coronavirus all the time.


John Corcoran  10:18

Right. Right. And I assume that goes for communicating with your clients as well. I totally agree with that. I, you know, I found myself some days just craving other news, something having nothing to do with Coronavirus because otherwise it’s just debilitating. And it just is totally overwhelming and can you can spend too much time on it. What else? What other advice do you have for companies that are, you know, seeking to communicate effectively in today’s unusual circumstances.


Gina Furia Rubel  10:50

So we’re in the response mode right now. We’re not even talking about recovery yet. We don’t know when that’s going to start. So in the response mode Be prepared if you’re a small business owner, what happens if you get sick? That was I wrote a blog about that last week. And it was the hardest thing I ever had to write because I had to face my own mortality. And that’s tough for us. Right? Yeah, we are. Yeah. And young and or at least we think we’re young. So that was tough. But so think about that. And make sure you have someone even if you’re a solo, have a power of attorney for your significant other, have something ready to go for bigger companies, mid-sized companies. Be prepared for that communication that’s got to go out that says a member of our team has COVID-19 Be prepared with your messages says a member of our team has passed away especially for bigger companies. You have a risk you have more people right?


John Corcoran  12:00

indicate it to the rest of the members of your team. How do you communicate it to your clients to the rest of the world?


Gina Furia Rubel  12:06

Yeah, I mean, these are tough times. These are tough messages. Nobody hear this. It pains me to have to say it. These are the types of things we actually put in crisis communications plans. Because let’s face it, what are the two things that are truths, death, death and taxes, right?


John Corcoran  12:25

Although this year, the tax is a little postponed. So


Gina Furia Rubel  12:28

even taxes are paid for my death by another 30 or 40 years. But that being said, we know those two things to be factual. So even in in your typical everyday crisis response plans, we address what happens if somebody dies.


John Corcoran  12:46

Now just realizing right now, now that you mentioned it, how much reassuring that would be if you have a company and you’re faced with that horrible situation where maybe a key member of the team has passed away. Or even if they’ve just gotten it and you need to communicate to everyone to flip open to the plan, you know, and be able to like, here’s the messaging, here’s the message that we need to send out that’s got to be so reassuring to not have to. Okay, how do we communicate this? How do we, how do we reinvent the wheel here,


Gina Furia Rubel  13:18

and marketers are being taxed and exhausted, they’re working 24, seven in their companies, their firms to prepare these things while we’re still being responsive to client media and employee needs. So it’s it’s a tough time. It’s not an easy time by any means. But we can also learn from this and I’m a big proponent of saying that there are opportunity and crisis. And


John Corcoran  13:47

I think that’s a nice message right now. Yeah. You don’t want to think that you’re, you know, capitalizing on it. But, you know, I think a lot of companies need to hear that right now because there are a lot of companies that need to reinvent their business plan live virtually overnight right now, if it’s not working, and so they need to realize that you can pivot and you can create opportunity out of it, whether it’s reinventing the business plan or just some other type of opportunity, which might have been what you were referring to,


Gina Furia Rubel  14:15

as well, it’s that it’s so for example, we’ve really ramped up we’ve been working with you, frankly, too long podcasts on record PR. And we’ve ramped up our efforts, because it’s more important now than it was three months ago for us to be able to communicate. And that’s, you know, I’m working with you. It’s been a pleasure on that. Thank you for all your guide. Of course. Thank you. You know, that’s one of the types of things but also really thinking about what else have we learned? Yeah, we have a country learned what have we have as a company learned, and what could we have done differently if this were to happen again. And that’s really announce that if you have downtime, use it to your advantage there are opportunities. Do that one thing on the maybe list that you’ve always been thinking about doing. I mean, yes, we cleaned our closets cleaned the whole house weekend. Everybody else I know clean their whole house this weekend. What else? What about investing time in your business during downtime so that when this is over, you’re prepared to come out of it with a gusto. You know, and that’s so there’s, there are so critical.


John Corcoran  15:28

I keep hearing that over and over again, I interviewed an investor yesterday, who was talking about that, he said, really what’s going to make the difference? Here’s, you know, work on a come out of this, just so we did that on 911, just so that we did after 2008 we’re going to come out of this. And the difference between the companies that are going to emerge and gonna thrive and the companies that are gonna emerge in a struggle or maybe not emerge at all, are the ones who are remaining really disciplined and focus to executing on a plan and not freaking out and following through on that plan. I know personally, I’ve been an advocate You got to double down on your best relationships. Absolutely. I think that’s the best thing you can do keep those relationships strong with Scott me through previous crises and career ups and downs and things like that is just keeping those relationships strong. So I encourage people to do that encourage you to do it, whether with a podcast or something else. But yeah, I totally agree that you got to be as you said, you know, disciplined and following through on a plan,


Gina Furia Rubel  16:23

have to be resourceful and know that we will get through this. We’re not going to get through it unscathed. And, you know, I, as a small business owner need to come to terms with that myself. I’m such an eternal optimist. And it’s interesting because even as a crisis communicator, I trust me I have my days. My husband will tell you my thing. But we’re going to get through this and now is a really great opportunity. You know, our team at pure ruble has ramped up the blogging efforts substantially the content is all about answering questions that people have and providing useful resources and tools. And now’s the time. Yeah.


John Corcoran  17:10

Yeah. I totally agree. That’s what we’re doing right here, right? I mean, we’re sharing helping others to the extent that we can with how to cope with these historically unusual times. Any final thoughts before we wrap things up? I know you’re incredibly busy. So thank you so much for carving time out of your busy day.


Gina Furia Rubel  17:28

What I would say is, keep your heads up. Be prepared, prepare for the worst hope for the best. We’re going to get through this together and know that both I and John are always available on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and our websites to answer questions or to be a resource


John Corcoran  17:50

Furia ruble com to learn more about Gina and what she does anywhere else that people can go to learn About Eugene, LinkedIn obviously,


Gina Furia Rubel  18:02

LinkedIn obviously I’m here, Gina Furia, ruble, my married and my maiden name. And on Twitter Of course or Instagram, I’m pretty much on every platform, although don’t bother with Snapchat I’m not very good about



and then they give me a hard time


John Corcoran  18:21

about it. Oh, thank you for your time. Thank Brendan over here for keeping quiet.



First, Brendan.


John Corcoran  18:32

He’s, it was amazingly quiet. I can’t believe that he actually was quiet the entire time. So we’re doing our best. So Gina, thanks so much. Thanks, everyone.


Gina Furia Rubel  18:43

On stay healthy.