2010 NonProfit PR Awards: Crisis Management

Winner: Pentagon Force Protection Agency - Active Shooter at the Pentagon

Managing media and public reaction and—most importantly—ensuring a feeling of safety for employees in the building was tantamount for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) after a random shooter entered the Pentagon in March 2010. The incident, in which two officers were wounded and the assailant was fatally shot, lasted less than 15 seconds. The response during the first 12 hours was textbook crisis management, with the PFPA communications office responding to questions, communicating the facts and ensuring the agency did not get trapped into answering questions for which information was not yet available. The campaign then shifted into a more proactive mode, where communications executives shared details of the events, updated the press on the conditions of the injured officers, and prompted the media with information about the agency’s preparedness, training and devotion to duty. —Cathy Olson

Honorable Mentions:

Bloomington Hospital - H1N1 Communications

Bloomington Hospital turned to electronic communications and the media in a communications plan to proactively reassure the community about the hospital’s ability to handle a potentially severe H1N1 outbreak. The campaign also generated public service announcements that were heavily featured in the local press and on local cable networks.

St. Mary Medical Center/Anne Klein Communications Group - Planning for Pandemic: Communicating Preparedness in the Face of H1N1
Amid rising public concern about the H1N1 virus in 2009, St. Mary’s developed a three-pronged plan that would keep its hospital staffers feeling prepared and calm for whatever might be coming their way. The plan—which encompassed communications for pre-outbreak, a severe outbreak and a persistent or elevated outbreak—is still in place today.