☕️ We grabbed a
coffee berry refresher with Andrew Friedman, SVP of Crisis Management. He shared what it’s been like to support clients during #COVID19, along with expert insights and why JFK Jr.’s plane crash was the moment that most impacted his professional life.
How do you like your coffee?
I’ve actually never had a cup of coffee in my life. I just never liked the taste of it. I will say that there is a drink, not to plug Starbucks, called a Berry Refresher to which I have developed a pretty unhealthy addiction (between the amount of sugar in it and the cost of it). Still, I miss it during lockdown, even to the point that I went online and ordered the powder to try making it at home; it’s not quite as good.
What do you like doing outside of work?
Playing just about anything with my kids and going to or watching Mets games, which is probably the thing I miss most right now.
How different has it been to lead crisis work during COVID-19 compared to all of your previous experiences?
It’s been worlds apart. The biggest difference is when I do crisis work, I usually work on projects with which only my team is involved. Coronavirus has touched nearly every one of the firm’s clients. So we set up a mechanism that, in addition to helping my own set of clients, allows the crisis team to work across practice areas and clients, helping to bring specific crisis expertise to clients that haven’t had to deal with some of those issues before. Being able to support so many clients has been a way to feel useful during such a hard time.
BerlinRosen’ers have always been particularly good at helping each other and that’s never been more true than right now.
Since COVID-19 impacts all of our practice areas, how has it been to work across so many different clients and industries?
In some ways, coronavirus has been a unifier for clients that otherwise have nothing in common. A blue-chip real estate client and a small nonprofit generally don’t have a similar set of issues but, at this moment, they do, whether that’s the most tragic consequences of this crisis or more practical issues like work-from-home protocols. We’ve tried to be very intentional about aggregating and sharing learnings between colleagues in order to benefit our clients. BerlinRosen’ers have always been particularly good at helping each other and that’s never been more true than right now.
Digital strategies are also particularly important in this moment when in-person interactions are on hold and our Digital team has done an incredible job of helping clients navigate that.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the COVID-19 team?
We’ve been helping clients navigate internal communications, media relations and digital strategy. Internal communications has actually been one of the most important areas, helping clients communicate with their own stakeholders—whether that’s employees, donors, students, etc. Externally, there are clients that are traditionally covered in the media that had to undergo difficult issues like layoffs and furloughs they’d probably rather not discuss publicly. But, it’s news; reporters are going to ask about it (as they should) and it’s our job to help figure that out.
Separately, reporters are looking for unique angles on coronavirus, which has created opportunities for clients to share expertise and learning. Digital strategies are also particularly important in this moment when in-person interactions are on hold and our Digital team has done an incredible job of helping clients navigate that.
Tell me a life-changing moment that helped shape who you are today.
I was interning at the NBC affiliate here in New York City. On Day 3 of my internship, JFK Jr.’s plane went missing and it was, obviously, a wall-to-wall coverage situation. It was a Saturday morning, a time when assignment desks are traditionally understaffed, so I got to do quite a bit more than an intern otherwise would. When I walked out of the newsroom after what was about a 36-hour shift, I knew that journalism and storytelling were what I wanted to do for a living. I spent 15 years in broadcast journalism and now I’m on the other side, but the storytelling aspect remains the same. That Saturday shaped my professional life more than any other moment.
⚡️ Fast Facts