2010 Digital PR Awards: Crisis Management

Winner: Weber Shandwick – 2010 Census Issues Management Program Ensures a Complete Count

The U.S. Census Bureau had one goal as it geared up for its nationwide polling in 2010: achieve a high return rate on its forms. However, negative reaction to a decision to run a costly ad during Super Bowl XLIV—a reaction heightened by Sen. John McCain’s tweet criticizing the move—threatened to derail this goal. After gauging the situation according to a five-step issues management process—monitor, identify threats, analyze, assess action and act—the Weber Shandwick team sprang into action, stressing that the ultimate goal of the ad was to save taxpayers significant amounts of money. Weber Shandwick engineered informative tweets that resulted in positive chatter, and the bureau sidestepped the misunderstanding and hit its response target.

Honorable Mention:

Levick Strategic Communications - Managing Six Flags’ Bankruptcy Message Online:

Levick launched a campaign to correct reports that Six Flags might shut down during the summer of 2009. The goal was to define Six Flags as a company that was committed to full transparency in its communications. Tactics included aggressive outreach to bloggers and traditional reporters via Twitter, and creating new landing pages for the parks that would share bankruptcy messages in a transparent fashion. Bottom line: The bankruptcy announcement had no measurable impact on Six Flags earnings in the summer of 2009.