2010 Platinum PR Awards: Crisis Management

Winner: Royal Caribbean/Weber Shandwick – Royal Caribbean’s Return to Haiti

Royal Caribbean had long, close ties to Haiti as one of the country’s largest investors. However, a crucial decision to return ships to port in Labadee soon after the devastating earthquake garnered widespread criticism. Weber Shandwick’s immediate media response campaign steered RC’s messaging via press releases, brand social media and a comprehensive “Question and Answers” document, focusing on the company’s contributions to the local economy and relief efforts.

Soon, polls on MSNBC and CNN showed that more than half of readers approved of the decision to return. A post regarding the issue on the company president’s blog was picked up by 50 outlets, ensuring that RC’s message stayed on course.

Honorable Mentions:
Davies - Neverland On-Sight Media Blitz and Branding Control
Following Michael Jackson's death, the current owners of Neverland Ranch were facing tens of thousands of fans coming to the estate to pay their respects. To control the media frenzy, while providing a grieving public with some answers, Davies PR arranged a series of media tours, which gave full access to property owners. Over 30 media outlets from around the world arranged a visit and the tone of press was overwhelmingly courteous.

Neiman Group - The Deli Wars: Dietz & Watson Takes a Stand for Consumer Choice:
In response to a Boar's Head push to be sole deli meat at counters, Dietz & Watson brought in Neiman Group to bait a media feeding frenzy. They arranged a public pledge and challenge from D&W CEO directed at the Boar's Head CEO, pledging never to accept exclusive deals. The pledge gained huge media attention, with over 4 million impressions, and D&W products became more competitive in national chains.

Fleishman-Hillard - Protecting a Trusted Brand During Labor Negotiations with Real-Time Conversation:
FH launched a strategic communications plan to help Walgreens keep its reputation intact with customers, stakeholders and employees themselves during labor negotiations. The resulting social media efforts, press releases and dedicated Web site area sought to explain the situation clearly without alienating customers and to reassure all that Walgreens was still capable of great service.

General Motors and Weber Shandwick - GM Reinvention:

To reassure stakeholders and consumers after a bankruptcy filing, GE partnered with Weber Shandwick to create a robust proactive social media platform and counter the many misconceptions and misinformation floating around the Internet. The high online visibility paid off, with 13,922 Twitter followers gained and more than 13,000 questions and comments filed for CEO Fritz Henderson's open Q&A social media session.

Levick Strategic Communications - Heartland Payment Systems Inc.: In the face of record-breaking data loss, Heartland Payment Systems and LS chose to take the transparent high road with consumers, keeping key bloggers and media up-to-date with full disclosure about the nature of the breach. As the company assumed public leadership, share price rebounded to more than $14 from a low of $3.90 at the time of the initial announcement.

Weber Shandwick/Powell Tate & The National Pork Board - Protecting Pork Sales During H1N1: After the World Health Organization declared swine flu an international health emergency, the National Pork Board successfully switched the disease's official name to the less industry-detrimental H1N1—and backed up these efforts with extensive social media messaging and the creation of a FactsAboutPork Web site. The campaign decreased the number of pork consumers who said they were less likely to eat pork by 58% over a six-week period.

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