Providing EP services for Clients with Physical Disabilities and Mental Health Disorders

One of the biggest misconceptions for new Executive Protection practitioners is that they have an innocent and naive belief that they will land the best client, the one who is aware about what Executive Protection is, the one who is very active and physically trained, the one who will be following up with security directions, the one who will care about his/her agents’ wellbeing and the one who will be easy going and friendly.

Yes, the perfect client does exist, but it may take you quite some time in your career to get one, if at all. Considering clients have their own character traits, let’s talk about those clients who, day to day, are facing a physical disability such as paralysis, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, or even a semi-permanent injury. And remember, being simply advanced in years may have a substantial affect on their movements and therefore create some unique challenges in providing protective services for them.

The German Politician Wolfgang Schäuble has been bound to a wheelchair since 1990 after an assassination attempt, actor Michael J. Fox has been fighting with Parkinson’s disease for decades and actress Selma Blair has been living with multiple sclerosis since 2018. What all these famous people have in common is also a protective detail and Executive Protection Agents providing services for them. So have you ever wondered what an EP agent must take into consideration when he/she is hired to provide services for an individual with physical limitations or disabilities? While the primary goal remains the same, ‘’Protect the Principal’’, the way in which you are achieving it may be a little bit different in these types of situations.

  • First of all, do your due diligence and get informed on the specific circumstances that surround your prospective client. There are a number of crucial items you should know. Medical condition, abilities/inabilities, current medications, private physician info, etc. The more you know, the better you will be when providing services for them.
  • At your first meeting, ask them about their needs and if they have particular expectations from you. Ask about any specific instructions for their care day to day.
  • Consider how much time it takes for them to go from point A to B and plan/design scenarios around having to evacuate them (with or without the wheelchair or any walking aids).
  • Learn all about their specific wheelchair functions and movement (Or any walking aids).
  • Always ask permission before jumping to help, especially when in public or in the company of other people. Don’t assume that they may always want or need your help. At this point in their lives, they can feel that an enormous amount of their personal freedom has been stripped away.
  • Always keep in mind, people with disabilities are still people and they still have a great many things they like or want.
  • Be patient and polite when offering any help. Don’t try to rush them. What for you may seem easy, for them may be hard, painful or even seem impossible.
  • Recognize and respect their personal space and time.  Yes, even a person who needs assistance to move around and depends on you will still have need of his/her own personal space or time.
  • Don’t ‘’over-do it’’, let them breathe from time to time. You do NOT have to be in the room every waking second.
  • Always be prepared to make adjustments or accommodations to make their life easier and look for ways to develop methods to better assist them.
  • Always take into consideration their special needs (physical and medical) when you have to visit venues, attend events, travel into other countries, book a hotel room, make dinner reservations etc. Have in mind, not many countries are as progressive as we are when it comes to customers with physical disabilities. Having a highly-skilled advance agent who can plan these details accordingly is a great advantage in these cases.
  • Ensure that someone from the team is ahead of you, taking care to be sure there is a clear path for your client to enter or exit with the wheelchair or walking aid, wherever you may have to go.
  • If there is no threat, give them their time and have patience while moving to discourage pressured or awkward moments.
  • In the event of an imminent moment of threat or danger, have you planned ahead and are you, or a group of you, capable of lifting that person up properly and assisting in a quick and safe evacuation?
  • Be quite careful of your language both while in the presence or in the absence of your client. While many professionals are aware which words can be offensive for a person who has a disability, some may accidentally offend someone without meaning to. When you work for people with disabilities you want them to feel respected and empowered. In order to accomplish that, simply place emphasis on someone as the person first, by name, and then, only if needed, mention the disability if logistics would require it to avoid embarrassment or frustration

Now let’s talk about clients who are dealing with mental health disorders, which are the most common issues an Executive Protection agent may have to deal with and can be hard to detect unless you are told or you are quick to recognize.

Most common reported names and examples (as per their public confessions):

  1. Elon Musk – Asperger’s Syndrome
  2. Chrissy Teigen – Postpartum Depression
  3. Demi Lovato – Bipolar Disorder
  4. Steve Young – Social Anxiety Disorder
  5. Donny Osmond – Social Anxiety Disorder
  6. Michael Phelps – ADHD
  7. Dan Reynolds – Clinical Depression
  8. Leonardo DiCaprio – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  9. Daniel Radcliffe – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  10. Lady Gaga – PTSD
  11. Adele – Postpartum Depression
  12. Prince Harry – Severe Anxiety during royal events
  13. Chris Evans – Social Anxiety
  14. Jim Carrey – Depression

      Why it is important to be aware of your client’s mental health disorders? Because what they are dealing with affects the way they see life, you, threats, others etc. Just by simply being aware, you enable yourself to make the necessary adjustments in how you approach them, interact with them and how you provide services to them. Imagine the client who goes into a full panic attack when walking through and dealing with crowds or the client who suffers from dementia and you have to introduce yourself for the 100th time.

     Although we highly emphasize the importance of creating and maintaining a medical profile for your client and keeping the involved agents apprised of this information, not many companies practice this. Until you are informed about a disorder or medical malady by your supervisor, predecessor or the client himself, it may take you quite some time with dedicated personal observation and study to discover what you are dealing with. Again, do your due diligence to find out what the condition is or may be. If you can consult with a therapist, do so while always maintaining the utmost discretion and confidentiality. In a case where this may not be possible, an easy way to find more information is by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the handbook used by health care professionals as a guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. The book contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. However, as with “Googling” your symptoms on the internet, one must be very careful of how to use this handbook and the information it contains.

    How you approach your clients who may suffer from mental health disorders is very important and can help by creating a healthy relationship and a positive protective detail while avoiding conflicts and awkward or embarrassing events.

These are some key points to have in mind:

  • During a crisis moment, pause, stand back and assess the situation before approaching. What you see on initial approach may not be as it appears.
  • Be careful with your tone, speak slowly and in a calm manner. You, your tone and your body language have an enormous effect on the situational outcome.
  • If need be, introduce yourself again, explain why you are there and ask how you can be of assistance.
  • If they appear disoriented, reassure them, remaining calm yourself. This will have a drastic effect on their mental status as well.
  • Listen to what they would like and respect their wishes if possible.
  • Do not rush them, create space and give them their time.
  • Make sure you are providing a quiet and discreet place for them, if needed, kindly request that all other people present exit to allow them a few minutes of quiet.
  • Remain calm and have patience. Listen, don’t speak…Sometimes a willing ear is all that is required to assist in a peaceful outcome.
  • Try to identify the cause of their respective triggers and reduce any noise levels and confusion.
  • Keeping their triggers in mind, always take appropriate measures while travelling or attending events to eliminate awkward moments or embarrassing circumstances.
  • Know your limits and recognize the difference between what you feel comfortable handling and when it is time to ask for a professional intervention.
  • Never forget, you are NOT their therapist but their Executive Protection agent, concerned about their wellbeing.
  • If you are interested to learn more and being more prepared, there are many Psychological First Aid or Intervention to Crisis classes available online.

     Dealing with someone who has physical disabilities or mental health disorders is no easy task, no matter how well prepared you are, and especially when you are facing it from the aspect of an Executive Protection agent. However, when you have done your due diligence, sharpened your client awareness skills and made all the required and necessary preparations, you can achieve calmer details with very few calamities and avoid unneeded conflicts and give your client security, confidence and peace of mind.

Understanding that the people you interact with, provide assistance to or the very person you are directly protecting, is in pain, stressed, fearful, angry or extremely confused, etc and being able to recognize these moments and have a plan of how to deal with it properly, will help soothing these anxious and difficult behaviors at the earliest possible stage providing a stable, professional platform from which to provide services.

Chris Grow

AUS Global Special Services Travel Team

Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC

Denida Zinxhiria Grow

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide & Nannyguards

Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC

Open Invitation For Security Practitioners

You may have heard by now of the formation of the Board of Executive Protection Professionals (BEPP). This Board comprises highly respected industry professionals James Cameron, Gerard Boniello, Joe Autera, Steven Hernand, Raffaele Di Giorgio, Tom Lebrun, William Cage, Denida Zinxhiria Grow, Chris Grow, Travis Lishok, Lance Guillory, Michael Pukish, Aurelia Fedenism, Donald Robinson, Anthony DeMolina, Tim Bigler, Dr. George DeBusk, Jason Johnson, Roman Garcia and Charles “Chuck” Andrews.

As of Monday, 9/21/2021, the Board of Executive Protection Professionals received its ANSI accreditation and became an approved National Standard Developer. Recognizing the EP industry is void of consistency and in need of a set of standards to demonstrate a foundation of knowledge and competency in executive protection, the BEPP was established with the sole purpose of creating the first ANSI (American National Standards Institute) approved “Standard for Providing Executive Protection.

”If you have questions, please visit the FAQ page at https://www.ep-board.org/

The board is presently looking for a variety of individuals to be involved in this process. Specifically, they are seeking producers (Individuals who currently work in the EP industry), Users Individuals who own or works for an organization that supplies “producers” to their organizations clients or individuals). Specific Subject Matter Experts (Individuals with specific SME qualifications in subjects that are an asset to the EP industry) and General Interest (Individuals with unique skill sets or equipment that interact with “users” and “producers”.

There are two opportunities for individuals to join the process.

1) The Technical Committee is comprised of seasoned industry professionals responsible for developing new or revised language for Standards developed by BEPP. This Committee will also approve or reject recommendations made by the Working Group. The BEPP Technical Committee is the consensus body and will follow the voting procedures.

2) The Working Group is comprised of industry professionals who make recommendations to the Technical Committee for final consideration, revision, and approval.

Technical Committee Members may also be part of the Working group.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the process, what can you do?

a. Please fill out the application on the website located at BEPP Online Application.

b. Once an application has been submitted, email a current resume in PDF format to info@ep-board.orgc.

Application acceptance will close on December 15th, 2021, and all applicants will be notified via email of the BEPP decision.

The Multi-faceted Issue of Harassment

We are just now learning of and reading about the allegations of two personnel, one a security agent and the other an estate manager, who were previously employed by the household of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. As the two former employees have begun to file their respective lawsuits against the billionaire couple and their family-related corporate entities, we must finally face the uncomfortable conclusion that these incidents have actually occurred and that similar circumstances have been happening for some time all throughout the world and seem to be dramatically increasing.

   “We were told to ‘keep our mouths shut and forget about it’ so we would not labeled as ‘trouble makers’”…We were told, ”He had a bad day”…We were told, ”Do you know who that guy is?” in an effort to intimidate us and make us wary of speaking out. We were told, “What happens here, stays here.”

     The truth is, no matter who one is (Or imagines himself/herself to be) or what kind of a day he/she supposedly had, no one has the right to, or should be forgiven for, insulting you, bullying you or sexually harassing you. During my 19 years in this industry, I have personally experienced or witnessed many quite similar cases. I have quit details because of a constant atmosphere of harassment.

Can I ”take it”?. Just because you may be able to deal with this type of situation doesn’t mean in any way that you should allow yourself to be put in that situation any longer. So, yeah, I can “take it”, but I do not have to, nor will I any longer.

    Discrimination can be when you are told you can’t do the job just because you are a woman. Discrimination is, quite often, when your team members do not trust your skills and see you as a liability or another person to be protected. Discrimination is when they believe that due to your origin or your religious beliefs, you can not be an ample protector. Discrimination is also when your opinions during briefing and debriefing aren’t given a chance to be heard cause you are seen or quietly labeled as  ”Not good enough”. 

    Harassment is not only when someone is being inappropriate directly to you, but also when they think they can use vulgar language or behave inappropriately in your presence because they don’t think you feminine enough, you’re “Just one of the guys” or they seek to shock you. Harassment is also when they ”accidentally” touch you or parade around semi-naked or naked in front of you at the compound. Remember, harassment takes on many forms and can happen in many ways. 

    Bullying is another issue that is all too prevalent. This can occur when your team lead or supervisor judges you based on your gender and blame you for everything. Bullying is being informed that your side of the story doesn’t matter.

Bullying is also being an ass to someone merely because of what position you hold. In a recent chat with a colleague, he brought up a name, with whom I had a personal experience. When I told him how he treated his employees and, most importantly women, he said ”That is weird, he has never done anything like that to me”…Well, of course not. Because, primarily, you are a man and secondarily, these people act accordingly to their perceived level of power. 

    So when someone is being harassed, bullied or discriminated against, take a moment to sit down and listen to them. Just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean it is not happening to others. If you are the one being harassed, bullied or discriminated against, have in mind you do not have to just ”deal with it” or ”forget about it”. Don’t allow it to begin in the first place. Set your standard and expectations right from the beginning. Expect professionalism and respect from your colleagues and give them the same in return. Keep documents, report it and if needed, seek legal help. If you are a company owner or someone who makes these types of decisions, seek further training on the subjects for all your employees. A well-organized team can and will unravel quite rapidly and unexpectedly in these types of circumstances and no one wants that to occur.  There are plenty of free training programs on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Denida Zinxhiria Grow

Contract Management for Security Providers

One of the biggest challenges that the majority of the security companies will have to deal with is not so much being able to obtain a contract, but to be able to properly maintain that contract once it’s signed and done. We are all quite aware of how many times the intricate contracts for various clients have changed hands over the years. While some might think it is hard to land a good contract, maintaining it professionally and properly while providing what you are being paid for may be very difficult for some companies. According to numerous studies, the average company loses nearly 10% of their clients due to their poor contract management. Why is that? Well, managing contracts (and the corresponding projects) is an overlooked form of corporate leadership and a large part of a company’s operational function and market viability. Project and contract managers must be able to interact frequently with their agents in the field, subcontractors, vendors, stakeholders, family offices and, more often as not, the client himself/herself.

‘’The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM) identifies 7 major areas of contract management weakness:

  • Disagreement regarding contract scope
  • Weaknesses in contract change management/retention
  • Performance failures due to over-commitment
  • Performance issues related to a disagreement/misunderstanding over what was committed or requested
  • Inappropriate contract structures
  • Disputes over pricing
  • Issues with subcontractors’’

Now let’s discuss some of the most common causes that may cost a security provider one of their contracts:

  1. You are charging significantly more than is proper (Faulty Pricing)

At some point we have to admit that quite a number of companies will overcharge a client merely because of who the client is and not particularly what their security needs or threat level may be. You cannot begin to expect one client/contract to change your own wealth status or single handedly build your company’s gross revenue and/or profit. It is neither ethical nor professional for your corporation to make 2 to 3 times more profit than the agents working the detail on the ground. We all have our levels of operational expenses, but don’t pass that bill on to the client or your protective agents. Make a profit, but make one within logical expectations.

2. You are ‘’suffocating’’ your  client

Either: A) You have placed more agents than are needed (Again, this comes back around to profit: The more agents  on the ground, the more you can charge), B) Your agents are not exercising proper situational awareness and how to be flexible with protection levels versus the client’s perception of asphyxiation, or C) The company holding the contract has not done a proper Risk/Threat/Vulnerability Assessment and/or are not trained, experienced or knowledgeable enough to ascertain proper staffing and logistics. Some companies will ‘’overreact’’ on the threat level to make their services appear quite necessary to the client, while in reality, achieving the opposite result.

3. Not being able to provide services as promised

A protective detail is comprised of many elements and sometimes you have to be able to provide additional services as you go. You must be the one who can foresee what is or will be needed and provide it before the client even asks for it. We have heard of many companies who fail to render even the basics of what they agreed to provide. We have seen details operating with less manpower than what was requested or changing the personnel so often because they fail to keep the professional agents or cannot staff it properly. Have in mind, clients need stability and familiarity and will become unsettled when they see or must become accustomed to new faces.

4. Failure to accommodate clients needs and solve operational issues (Lack of Customer Insight)

We’ve all heard the phrase, “The client is always right”, correct? Well, from the moment you signed that contract, you alone are the one who must do whatever it takes to construct a smooth protective detail and provide peace of mind to the person who hired you. You alone are the one who must be stressed, work long hours and find a way to solve any issue with the security team or the client’s needs, not the client. It must appear as though all is under control and operational.

5. You are not providing services to a level or standard that is expected and required

We can all agree that our prospective clients will want 3 things: A) To be protected, B) To have the best close protection agents, staff and logistics that their finances can obtain (they fully believe they are paying for the best either way) and C) To have peace of mind. If your corporation is hiring unqualified, unprofessional or unethical agents, or utilizing contractors of the same substandard quality because you refuse to pay for the ‘’good ones’’, the client will soon start looking for another company.

6. Your Project or Contract Manager has no vested interest in the contract (Neglected Contracts)

This occurs so many times when the person who is working for an ‘A’ list company, as a Project or Contract manager, simply doesn’t care to deal with the issues, stay intricately involved or maintain the contract for his company. Most fail to have good communication skills, which is one of the key elements when dealing with clients, vendors, staff, stakeholders or agents in the field. How you communicate during common, day to day interactions with people or personalities will be just as valuable, or more in some cases, as to how you react during a crisis situation and the solutions you are expected to provide. Merely having a project or contract manager on your staff isn’t nearly enough. You must have an individual who can be extremely flexible, can develop a strategy out of thin air and be able to solve complex issues, without raising undue alarm, if they arise.

      While these are just a few of the common pitfalls that a contract manager may find themselves encumbered with, each client and contract are unique and every company needs their respective contract managers to be creative, innovative, and highly observational so as to catch any of these issues far before they become problematic and present solutions to overcome them. Our task is not just to sell the client on our services and then walk away, but we are expected to, and should without failure, continue to provide the highest level of service and commitment to our clients that they have come to expect. The sale is the easy part…How we treat and care for the client and their contract once we sign on  the dotted line will either build our reputation and lead to more success or it will cause a loss of trust and failure that cannot be easily repaired or regained resulting in the loss of the contract.

Chris Grow

AUS Global Special Services Travel Team

Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC

Denida Zinxhiria Grow

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide & Nannyguards

Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC

Security Courses Directory

Security veteran Matthieu Petrigh MSyI, launched a new website with open source training programs on an array of topics dedicated to Security Professionals and those interested in learning security. On the website, you can find a variety of free courses as well as paid (online courses or partially online courses) related to the broad concept of Security, including Risk Management, Fraud, Defense, IT Security, Resilience, Terrorism, Criminology, and more.

Courses can be provided by universities, public or private organizations.

For training providers or authors: As we are one of the contributors in this effort, if you are offering online training or you have written a book and would like it to be listed in the platform contact us at info@lemareschal.com.

Visit the directory here: Security Courses Online

Mentoring Security Professionals

We will be launching a series of educational webinars that are absolutely free to attend. The aim of the webinars won’t be to present people and their past stories, but to have specific guests who will combine their experience and training in the industry in order to teach you something new, to help your professional development and to provide consultation for you. They will share their opinions, the “do and don’ts” of the industry and answer your questions.

And the best part? The content of each webinar will be developed by you! While we are working on our next webinars, let us know either by a comment here or via email at info@lemareschal.com what topics would you be interested in having discussed, answered and/or receive consultation on? This is a webinar created for you, by you!

Executive Protection Agents in a Rare Interview with a Retired Paparazzi

It’s not very often when we have the ability to interview and learn from our adversaries. While most efforts are seemingly focused only on physical attacks, they do not give enough emphasis to the paparazzi, media, and all that this facet of protection entails. But we’ve got you covered. This is an interview we have been wanting to do for the last 5 years. What we learned from a retired British paparazzi is that pointing a flashlight toward them won’t work, neither you are safe if you block the tail number from your private jet. We also learned how they find information about your clients, who are willing to pay a lot of money to buy your pictures (no, it is not only the media outlets), to what length they will go to distract you and get that picture and why you will be not able to buy their silence.

*Disclaimer: During this interview, you may encounter offensive language content within the realm of your site.*

** For permission to use this video please contact info@lemareschal.com**

***Copyright @Athena Worldwide, a LeMareschal LLC company. Any illegal reproduction of this content will result in immediate legal action.***

The challenges for protecting Public Figures- The Macron Incident

The latest incident with French President Emmanuel Macron being slapped by someone in the crowd has once again fired up the keyboard warriors who take any incident (video or picture) such as this and claim how improperly the EP team functioned and what would they have done differently and, of course, be more successful. As a Greek proverb says ‘’Whoever is outside the dance (floor), can sing many songs’’ Meaning: It is easy to talk about something when you are not the one involved in it. 

As security practitioners, we must be very careful what we say online, keeping in mind, whatever you post online stays online even if you delete it minutes later. We should not criticize security details and/or the people involved because we do not know all the facts, details, limitations and the full story. When you post a comment on a 10-second video, you may not have the full story. You do not know what happened before or after the incident. What you see in a photo may not be the full picture. It doesn’t make you any more ‘’professional’’ when you try to spot the wrong moves in an incident where you weren’t involved and you do not know all the parameters: you are just assuming.

In this case, we heard many opinions:

‘’Why didn’t they keep standard formation?’’- How can you keep standard formation when your principal is anticipating close interaction with a member of the crowd? Greeting lines are extremely tedious and are one of the most difficult situations to read and provide protection.

‘’The reaction time was slow.’’- The reaction time always seems to be slower when you see an incident on a video over and over again rather than being involved with it in real-time in the field.

‘’They were lucky he wasn’t holding a knife.’’ – Actually someone did their job well and made sure he (or anyone else in the crowd) wasn’t holding a weapon. What most fail to understand is that these crowds are previously checked for anything that can be used as a weapon.

‘’Why didn’t they saw that coming?’’ – They don’t teach ESP at EP schools…

‘’Why didn’t someone teach Macron?’’ – Most protectees won’t sit down and learn from you about protection, they want you to protect them. It’s not their job to know how to do yours…Why do you think you’re employed?

Now let’s address some challenges for protecting public figures and try to make some rational sense of all of this.

Protecting people whose identity depends on the public, such as politicians, in this case, is very much different than protecting a C-Suite executive for example. A politician needs the interaction with public. They shake hands, hug, get pictures with and celebrate with large crowds. Having people like them is what makes people vote for them, and they need to look and act quite approachable to everyone in order to gain votes. If they don’t get the votes, well, then they no longer hold their current political position. They have to attend gatherings and events and most of those functions may be outside of your span of control regarding organizing it. You have to provide services as best as you can with what you have and minimize whatever limitations you can. 

In this case ‘’the unknown crowd’’ is the issue. The ‘’crowd’’ provides a good opportunity for the enemy to blend in, act and even escape in some cases. Also, as most public appearances are preplanned and announced, the enemy has the time to be prepared for the attack. And when we say attack, let’s clarify that “attack on your principal” is not only an assassination or physical harm but also an attack on his/her personality, reputation or by causing embarrassment. 

While most EP training schools focus only on physical attacks, have in mind causing embarrassing situations may be something your principal is particularly vulnerable and endangered by, thus it is something you must be prepared to prevent. Making sure the crowd has been checked for anything that can be used as a weapon doesn’t mean you are safe from an embarrassing situation. Paying attention to people’s hands and what they are carrying doesn’t mean you can be sure about the intention of a handshake. A handshake can become a pat on the shoulder or a slap on the face. How would you know the intentions of the handshake and act within 2 seconds to prevent it? You must be in very close proximity to do that and sometimes you have limitations on how close you can be with your principal, particularly when they are interacting with the public and potential voters. When any public figure decides he/she want to come within close proximity of a voter, you are required to break the standard formations and you cannot have security between the voter and the principal because they need that ‘’personal space’’.

Act too aggressive and they will perceive this position as very unapproachable, something that goes against your principal’s political campaigns. So you have limitations or adaptations to perform your protective job competently. 

Another thing to consider is that some protectees will appear uncooperative with you and your suggestions or directions. They will do the exact opposite of what you have instructed them to do or whatever the plan was because they thought doing something different was ok, safe or was suggested at the last minute by their campaign manager. Some protectees will ask you to protect them no matter what. The fact that they won’t consider changing their lifestyle, and you have to do your best, becomes another facet of the ever-evolving detail.

Have we forgotten the flying shoe incident with President Bush in a press conference in 2008? The red paint thrown at Mary Harney, Ireland’s Health Minister in November 2010? Berlusconi’s nose being broken and two teeth knocked out when a man attending a political rally threw the statuette of Milan’s Duomo gothic cathedral straight in his face in 2009? Eggs being thrown at Bill Clinton in Warsaw, Poland? Nicolas Sarkozy being a victim of a flying pie in 1997? The book thrown at Obama in 2010? The glitter attack on Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlently in 2011? Pope being attacked by a woman who jumped barriers at St Peter’s Basilica and knocked him down in 2009? The famous slap on Dimitra Liani Papandreou, the widow of ex Greek PM at her book signing by a woman who appears to be there to sign her book? Bill Gates’ “Pie-to-the-Face” fiasco? There are so many more similar incidents including paint, body fluids, pies, yoghurt, vegetables, flour and even flashing body parts such as the Femen members who went toplessness in front of the EU-Russia summit, in Brussels, in December 2012.

Can we criticize the EP team members involved in these incidents? Can we say that you would have done better after the incident has taken place? From the moment you have a complete crowd check for weapons, you are in a “secure” space. But what leads you to believe that you have a better understanding regarding the mental status of someone who appears to be a voter or a fan? Can you honestly guess his motives if he/she wants to slap, or spit or in some way embarrass your client?

If you haven’t provided security details for Public Figures, it may seem easy for you to criticize an incident like this, but criticizing what you don’t know and just assuming doesn’t make you right and it very well may show your ignorance. Instead, use this incident as a reminder that people will use anything to harm your client’s reputation and their imagination can be big and quite unpleasant. Keep it as a learning tool for yourself and yet another scenario in your head of what you would or wouldn’t do if…

Denida Grow

Managing Partner

LeMareschal LLC

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide

Athena Academy

Nannyguards

Things to consider before you hire an Executive Protection team aka Bodyguards

 To all CEOs, celebrities, VIPs and high value individuals…

At some point in your careers, you will most likely find the need to retain, or at the very least, inquire about close protection services for yourselves, your loved ones and possibly for those you employ closest to you.
      Now, the list of companies and corporations that provide these type of services is quite lengthy and, while at first they all appear very impressive, you need to be thorough as you take a deep look at them and the ideals and morals they represent. Again, you are searching for the perfect fit that best protects yourselves, your families, employees and all things that you need secured and confidential.
      A quite disturbing trend as of late has been the repeated posting of pics with you as the client, at your locations and in front of your vehicles, private planes, residences, etc. while boasting about the details of who you might be, what was happening or other items of a secure nature. Now, this is entirely unacceptable no matter what the terms or conditions of their employment may be with you. You, and all that that may encompass, are to be secure, confidential and invisible for all intents and purposes. Period.
      Social media has become the source of all communications amongst a great number of these entities and this in turn has led to a trend of exposing enormous amounts of confidential client information when it is not only unnecessary but highly unprofessional and, frankly, childish. At times, it has even been portrayed as “marketing” when, in it’s true form, it’s nothing more than schoolyard bragging.
      So, when researching a prospective organization that you perceive may be the one you will choose, a thorough search of all related social media should be performed. The company’s sites, the reviews and even the social media sites of any/all possible employees that you might hire from their corporation. If they are willing to expose their previous clients with seemingly reckless abandon, you will most likely be the next celebrity/VIP pic that hits the Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn circuit and that is, I’m quite sure, not your desire at all.
      Many companies will show an endless supply of “tactical” pictures, extreme condition photos, worst case scenario snapshots, etc. Please understand that most of the organizations are composed of a large number of former military members, former LEO/SWAT members and private security contractors who have “been there & done that”. But it is always wise to remember that while these skills are highly advantageous should everything go tragically wrong in your day, these type of days should never happen if the proper planning is performed which is completely above and beyond the “hard skills” as they are often referred to.
      Another highly recommended item is a detailed NDA and total social media blackout for all involved. Leave nothing to chance and be very clear regarding the seriousness that this represents to you and the severity of disciplinary action should it be violated. Again, you and all you hold most dear are to be secure, confidential and private and definitely NOT on the front page of a local newspaper, tabloid, media page or out to the highest bidder.
      Always remember this…You came looking to us with your concerns and fears, placing your overall well-being in our capable hands. With that in mind, you should always feel protected, safe and secure from anyone or anything that might wish to harm you. And that harm should NEVER be at the hands of the very people whom you have so willingly trusted to provide the very best security, protection and peace of mind.

Denida Zinxhiria Grow

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide

Athena Academy

Nannyguards

http://www.athenaworldwide.com

http://www.nannyguards.com

At Athena Worldwide we are industry leaders for promoting, training and staffing female bodyguards internationally. With our affiliate offices, we can provide world-wide close protection and executive protection services for entertainment professionals, politicians, CEOs, Royal Families, journalists, clergy and corporate personnel. Want to find out more about female bodyguards? visit www.athenaworldwide.com

Protection Providers & Social Media Policies – The emerging necessity

Since social media has become so much a part of everyone’s daily activities and many use it as a way to promote their services, speak their mind and/or interact with others, companies who either have or utilize a social media presence need to also protect their brand and reputation from the online “acts” of their own staff/personnel. An all too commonplace example: John X works for security company Y and during his social media networking, he posts about his clients, where was he flying to, he speaks about how he is being paid, how much he makes, becomes rude with another colleague with whom he disagrees, he bullies him, etc…

Now, someone may think, and an alarming number of people do, since John X is not networking from the company’s Y social media account but from his own, there is nothing wrong and no harm done. WRONG. Anyone who works for you and has his work title/position linked to your company, represent your brand and is responsible for your reputation and can also be a liability for you and considered as the weak link of your company or someone who’s online activities are such that your competitors can use it against you. A bad security operative working for you shows the public how low your standards may or may not be and degrade the standards you appear to have when hiring people and how, apparently, you do not care about ethical considerations and personality traits.

It can also be used against your company in the market by your competitors claiming ‘’We have the best operatives available’’, or ‘’Our people are the utmost professionals’’, etc. How many of you have seen someone’s online behaviour and thought, ‘’Wow I can’t understand how that company hired someone like him/her…’’ So we can see that a social media policy not only will protect your company’s reputation but it can also reflect the maturity and professionalism of your employees.

Another reason for having a social media policy is the fact that, when you have a proper one in place, you most likely won’t be dealing with as many social media crisis situations. Keep in mind that in today’s digital age the quick spread on social media posts can make crises go viral quickly and ruin your reputation leaving a negative electronic footprint for you and your company.

Now that we’ve addressed why it is needed, let’s see what a social media policy is.  Simply put, it is a set of rules/documents that outlines how a company and its employees should carry themselves in online activities. Your employees will be advised of what they should or should not do in social media platforms, protect your company’s trade secrets, improve revenue due to increased and positive productivity, and also be aware and stay away from violating federal law.

Is there a ‘’One size fits all’’ social media policy for every industry? No, depending on the industry you are operating within and what your activities are, as well as what you would like to achieve and what your values are, each company must develop its own social media policy and social media crisis management plan.

The most basic concepts we could say that any social media policy for security companies should include are:

  1. A list with what not to speak about in public: topics/information that no one should mention in social media. Basically, do’s and don’ts.
  2. Approval or disapproval for employees to post pictures or drop clients’ names (Although at Athena Worldwide it is our policy that no one use or mention clients’ names or post pictures, many other companies are ok with it. So again, it comes down to what are your company’s values and goals).
  3. Who will be the company spokespeople and who will be the people in charge of your social media accounts?
  4. Who will be the person in charge of writing or approving information and educational posts for your blog and social media accounts?
  5. Who will be responsible to deal with and address complaints? Most of the time, it is up to the company’s management to deal with complaints which can be a poor choice as dealing with complaints comes down to managing a crisis and how to de-escalate the situation. You have to be trained to do so and not get emotionally involved.
  6. How will your company address training, promotional video, or website copyright infringements by other companies?
  7. What will be your direction on how to respond in online conflict situations? For example, how will you respond if someone attacks your company tactics, your employees, etc?
  8. Who will be assigned as your social media crisis management person and what will be your crisis management plan?
  9. Outline the basic steps that your employees can take to protect their own privacy online. Does your company provide basic cybersecurity awareness and insider threat awareness training?
  10. Will your company be offering online etiquette training to your employees?
  11. Will your company be enforcing consequences? Any social media policy, without consequences for people who break it, is invalid. Your company must decide how it will handle violations, list the potential consequences, and make sure enforcement is understood by your employees.

Always have in mind: as a security company or practitioner, you are working with a very specific clientele and you are in charge of their safety, their peace of mind, and their confidentiality. How you represent yourself in social media, how you react in ‘’challenging’’ posts and critiques, or what content you see valuable and professional enough to share in public, shapes your virtual persona identity/footprint and your image as a security professional. It takes years to build a good image and reputation… and only a few words online to destroy it.

Interested to find out more how to build your company’s Social Media Policy and Social Media Crisis Management Plan? Contact us. 

Denida Zinxhiria Grow

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide

Athena Academy

Nannyguards

http://www.athenaworldwide.com

http://www.nannyguards.com