2011 Platinum PR Awards: Media Relations

Winner: Navistar International Corporation – A Boss Saves Jobs, Helps the Community

In order to avoid laying off skilled workers, Chuck Sibley, manager of Navistar’s engine plant in Huntsville, Ala., devised a unique program that would pay employees to conduct community volunteer work in the area. Navistar’s management team immediately took to this fresh idea that would save jobs and strengthen ties to the local community. After partnering with three community organizations, the communications team—Navistar’s Marsha Burton, Kyle Rose and Lisa Hartenberger—captured extensive photos and video of the volunteer work that was packaged into a news release for local and national media.

The buzz from the initial outreach program resulted in Chuck Sibley being nominated by People magazine for its “Hero of the Year.” Seizing the opportunity for further media coverage, Navistar promoted Chuck’s candidacy through social media, an employee event and its LPGA event. Chuck won the prize and Navistar matched the $10,000 donation that was split among its three partner charities.

This charitable campaign generated tremendous feedback from current and potential investors. One potential investor said, “I’ve rarely been moved by the actions of a public corporation as I was by the actions of Navistar…Since I don’t buy your products, I will most certainly buy your stock.” —SP

Fast Fact: Media coverage included People, ABC’s World News Tonight, CNN’s American Morning and 10 major radio networks—totaling a potential reach of over 63 million viewers and readers.

Honorable Mentions:

General Motors and Weber Shandwick – An American Comeback Story: Resurgent Brands and Great Products Tell the Story of the New GM: Weber Shandwick and GM developed GM Media Online, an online storytelling hub that would focus on positive stories of GM’s revival. It was coupled with an aggressive media relations campaign that involved daily story mining and pitching to major outlets.

IFC – Portlandia: Using local outreach, national press events and exclusive sneak peeks, IFC managed to get both Portland and New York excited for a show created by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. In the process, the channel recast itself as one with critically acclaimed original content.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) – IHG’s Check it Free Promotion: IHG turned a negative situation into a positive by offering to pay travelers’ luggage fees in exchange for staying at one of its hotels. The promotion was touted in the national media and by influential travel experts.

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and The Government of Mexico – From Bad to Great: Promoting Mexico’s Environmental Leadership Amidst a Drug War: Ogilvy PR successfully shifted media coverage leading up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Mexico from the country’s ravaging drug war to its environmental leadership. Using advanced pitches and influential speakers, the agency was able to secure 100% positive coverage for Mexico for the event.

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