2012 Platinum PR Awards: Crisis Management

Winner: Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company MassMutual's Tornado Relief Efforts

When an EF3 tornado hit Springfield, Mass., the headquarters community of MassMutual, the Fortune 500 life insurance company immediately stepped up to the plate. MassMutual offered financial aid and other assistance for the city, and opened its doors to its employees and their families. It was the company’s media relations, strategic communications and community responsibility teams’ job to get the word out to employees and the community that the company was there to help, just as it had been for the previous 160 years. Press releases, internal communications, pro bono work and a rebuilding fair were the tools used to communicate to the public and provide it with solid support.

Through their efforts, these departments were able to secure multiple media hits in the local press and glowing editorials thanking the company for its work. Four local newspapers covered MassMutual’s collection of $1.6 million in donations and rebuilding effort. MassMutual’s efforts during this crisis helped to strengthen the Springfield community and also demonstrated the company’s dedication to its employees. —Danielle Aveta 

Honorable Mentions:

2K Sports – NBA 2K12: The Access Communications and 2K Sports PR teams turned a potential weakness into a great strength when they effectively marketed
a professional basketball video game during the NBA lockout.

Community Partnership of Southern Arizona – When Fear Ruled the Headlines: Crisis Response to the January 8, 2011 Tucson Shootings: In the wake of the 2011 Tucson shooting tragedy, CPSA used the media to position itself as the primary source of mental health information and offer comprehensive support for the grieving community.

Dominion Resources – Hurricane Irene: Dominion Resources extended the operating hours of its Facebook support team to post updates and answer all questions posed by the 1.2 million customers affected by Hurricane Irene.

ESPN – ESPN “Linsanity” Headline: After an ESPN Mobile editor posted an article about Lin with the headline “Chink in the Armor,”ESPN successfully gained control of the story by communicating swiftly and definitively. Heineken USA – Beer Recall: Creating a Successful International Communications Brew: Once Heineken USA was made aware of a problem affecting the bottles of some of its Mexican brands, it issued a voluntary recall in concert with a methodic and timely communications effort.

JPA – Major Healthcare Association’s Response to Investigative Series: To soften the blow of a potentially damaging series of stories about the association’s nonprofit status and public benefit of its members, JPA created a digital toolkit for hospitals, developed a webinar and produced a social media guide for association members. As a result, the series gained little traction, becoming a nonevent.

MWW – Flight Plan for the Future: JetBlue Preserves Its Direct Relationship with Pilots: After the Airline Pilots Association filed for an election to represent JetBlue pilots, MWW implemented a campaign to reach all pilots and address burning issues, resulting in a 17-point victory by JetBlue.

Ogilvy Public Relations – Fighting Fire with Fire: Resetting the Media Dialogue for Mexico: Ogilvy has worked to reestablish credibility and eliminate negative consumer, trade and business perception of Mexico around the world by delivering positive messages through trusted sources. 

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