Crisis success stories
CRISIS RESPONSE & CRISIS PLANNING
The Situation: Crisis plans, emergency drills, crisis management, media training and crisis response training do pay off! A chemical group experienced three newsworthy events within a short timeframe. The third event involved an ammonia release that resulted in the “shelter in place” of more than 42,000 residents. A major part of a community was shut down and many businesses within a large industrial area were also impacted. The plant site is located near major shipping lanes and interstate highways. We had worked with this client for many years: we helped them improve their crisis plans, tested their plans with crisis drills, upgraded their media kits, helped them create and implement stakeholder engagement programs, assisted with media relations / outreach, Responsible Care initiatives and more. We also trained their management team in crisis management strategies and equipped their spokespersons and frontline employees with crisis communications and media skills.
The Results: Obviously, a third event impacting more than 42,000 people could have been devastating to the reputation and goodwill earned by this organization. However, the chemical group was able to respond quickly to ensure the safety of the community and employees. Dozens of media organizations made it to the area within a short time to cover this “lead” story and some national media also carried the story. Our team was on site to help the company implement its crisis plans and assist with media and stakeholder needs. Thanks to solid crisis planning and the goodwill this company had established with its stakeholders, the mayor and director of emergency services both participated in media interviews and praised the chemical group for their quick actions and effective, transparent communications. The media coverage was short in duration and the organization was able to resume normal operations.
CRISIS MANAGEMENT & MEDIA SKILLS
The Situation: A member of the Board of Directors for a healthcare organization was very familiar with Benchmark’s reputation as crisis management consultants and our approach to media relations and media training. Therefore, when his hospital discovered they had a serial killer on staff, he recommended they immediately call our firm for crisis planning and guidance. We helped them quickly identify and assess the impact to key stakeholders and reviewed the priorities of law enforcement and others involved in the criminal case. Then, we helped them coordinate messages with key parties and prepared them for a major onslaught of media coverage.
The Results: Not surprisingly, this very serious and sad situation attracted worldwide media attention. The hospital’s leaders said our crisis response approach was absolutely instrumental in helping them seamlessly and effectively manage the devastating news and shore up key stakeholder support. They also credited our approach as a key reason why some of the major news organizations did not pursue the story at that point in time. The killer is now serving a life sentence in a Texas prison.
HIGH PROFILE MEDIA EVENT
The Situation: Solid crisis management and risk assessment are crucial, so when crises do occur, your team is ready to go with the right crisis response strategies, crisis plans and media training skills. A pipeline group faced a devastating failure on one of its major transmission lines. The incident left more than 1500 people homeless when nine apartment buildings burned to the ground during the middle of a cold, March night. The fireball was so large that it could be seen in other neighboring states. In addition, natural gas customers across the Northeast were left without heat during a period of frigid temperatures. For many years, our firm had trained hundreds of the pipeline’s people from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast in crisis communication, spokesperson and stakeholder relations’ skills. The pipeline group also called on Benchmark to provide crisis consulting and crisis training behind the scenes during this crisis incident.
The Results: Some six weeks after the incident, the New York Times wrote a glowing editorial saying the company’s response was one of the best they had witnessed in the history of such catastrophic events. The pipeline company’s communication group won many awards from prestigious organizations for its crisis response and their leaders were asked to speak at numerous events to share their lessons and crisis response expertise. Company leaders often credited Benchmark’s crisis communications strategies and training as an important contribution to their success.
MEDIA COACHING FOR PRIME TIME NEWS
The Situation: Media skills are a must for today's organizations, and the right media coaching is key when facing high profile media interviews. A Fortune 100 Company was invited to appear on Fox News, because the FTC had ruled against them on a key issue. The company had called on Benchmark for years for media training and consulting; they did not agree with the FTC ruling, and it was beginning to attract negative news media and public attention. The company asked us to help them assess the issue, develop messaging and prepare them with media skills coaching, so they could effectively tell their story on Fox News.
The Results: We collaborated with their head of marketing and PR Director to achieve their goals. We used our stakeholder analysis and media messaging tools to look at the issue from various stakeholder perspectives. Then, we developed key media messages, along with Q&A strategies. We conducted executive media coaching to help their spokesperson be comfortable and prepared for a range of possible interview scenarios. After his Fox News appearance, the client called to say how well our media strategies and coaching worked. Their spokesperson came across as very credible, comfortable, engaging and “human”. They felt they had walked away with the equivalent of a six-minute advertisement for their company!
CAREER CHANGING MEDIA TRAINING
The Situation: Media training and media skills are a must for today's leaders and organizations. A senior public affairs leader for an East Coast group was invited to attend a media training skills session sponsored by a leading industry association. The focus of the session was advanced media skills and crisis communications skills. She showed up late because she really dreaded attending. She had attended similar media training sessions over the course of her successful PR career and expected it to be just “another” media / crisis training – like so many before!
The Results: However, she quickly realized that Benchmark’s approach and crisis strategies were VERY different! After the first break she got up and told the group how amazed she was at what she was learning in just the first hour – things she had never heard of before! She said that she had never heard other firms explain how to work with emotions, perspectives and psychological barriers to better connect with the media and stakeholders during a crisis. She continues to sing our praises to others seeking highly effective crisis management strategies and media skills.