Batten Institute

Larry L. Smith



Bio: Larry Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management, has more than 30 years of experience in the news and public relations business. He worked his way up through the television news ranks to manage one of the top-rated news departments in the country at WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky. Under his leadership, the station earned a National Headliner award for Outstanding News Reporting.

He is an adjunct professor of broadcast journalism at Indiana University Southeast and has conducted corporate media training for more than 15 years. In this role, he works with executives of organizations seeking to minimize the negative public reaction to a business crisis, assists in developing crisis communications plans, and teaches seminars in crisis management. He also works with television stations, consulting with news managers, coaching talent, and conducting news writing and producing seminars.

In the mid-1980s, he served as press secretary to then Senator Dan Quayle. As the senator’s press secretary, he dealt regularly with the White House Press Office and worked daily with the national media. Smith also guided Senator Quayle, a member of the Armed Services Committee, through the media onslaught following the downing of a U.S. airliner over North Korea.

He is former vice president of the Louisville Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a member of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. He served for six years as a public information officer in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve. He is a graduate of Indiana University.

Expertise: Crisis Leadership 


Fellowship Focus: Larry Smith and his faculty host, Erika James, will collaborate during this fellowship to develop research and teaching materials that will help transform the field of crisis management into what they call “crisis leadership”: a broad, multifunctional approach to preventing, containing, and learning from organizational crises and other challenges that threaten a firm’s survival and its ability to innovate.

A major output of their collaboration will be a practitioner-oriented book on crisis leadership based on research that they have conducted independently during the past several years and research that they will conduct jointly during the fellowship. In this book, Larry Smith and Erika James aim to promote a paradigm shift in how executives deal with crises. They will provide information that goes beyond the public relations and communications issues that dominate the existing crisis-management literature and discuss strategies for helping executives approach crises not as threats that must be handled by the legal department but as opportunities that can be leveraged to help organizations become more flexible and innovative. This book will become the primary text for Professor James’s second-year Crisis Leadership elective and will be used in executive education programs.

Mr. Smith and Professor James will also organize a conference to bring together faculty and practitioner experts from across the country to discuss strategies for preventing and leading organizations through crises, and to develop cases and other teaching tools. And they will develop an executive education program that will provide a multidisciplinary approach to crisis leadership. This program will be a significant addition to Darden’s executive education offerings.

Contact Info

Appointment: 2003–2004

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