NEW YORK: Porter Novelli has hired Sean Smith, former assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, as SVP of global crisis communications.
Smith will work to establish crisis communications plans for a variety of corporate clients and to expand the agency's offerings to new business. The newly developed role represents an expansion of the practice, integrating crisis communications teams across Porter Novelli's practice areas.
“We hope to persuade companies about the importance of preparation. We live in a media environment right now where things that wouldn't have been a crisis five years ago, or even two years ago, deserve the consideration of a crisis communications response,” Smith explained.He will split his time between the agency's Washington and New York offices, providing services to Porter Novelli's global network. He will report to Kiki McLean, the global head of public affairs.
At Homeland Security, he was responsible for developing and implementing strategic communications programs and department activities. He was the longest-serving assistant secretary for public affairs in the department's history.
He oversaw a 300-person public affairs staff across several Homeland Security agencies, including FEMA, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“It was a non-stop media environment, with national security incidents, natural disasters, oil spills, immigration issues, and others to deal with,” Smith added. “It was a big challenge, but it was a rewarding experience that I think has prepared me well for this next chapter.”
Prior to joining Homeland Security, Smith served as a spokesman for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. He has also worked as a communications and campaign manager for several statewide political campaigns, and as a consultant to major multinational corporations.