2011 Platinum PR Awards: Crisis Management


Winner: Deveney Communication – Louisiana Office of Tourism BP Oil Spill Response

On April 20, 2010, an explosion and oil leak devastated tourism in the Gulf Coast region. By July 15 the leak was capped, but negative perceptions continued to erode Louisiana tourism. The Louisiana Office of Tourism (LOT)—with Deveney Communication—launched a comprehensive, researchbased and results-driven campaign to preserve an industry that employs more than 200,000 people.

Deveney and LOT developed a one-voice strategy, providing all organizations and individuals interacting with the media consistent messaging and facilitating the exchange of timely information, producing more than 160 daily media audits and weekly stakeholder reports distributed to a network of more than 1,100 partners. They also formed an experts bureau comprised of more than 86 spokespeople and leaders in myriad industries. LOT achieved 449% of its publicity goal, and research shows that tourism is trending up and the perception of the extent of devastation has decreased by 20%. —BM


Honorable Mentions:

Aflac with Kaplan Thaler Group, PainePR and Digitas – Japan Earthquake / Aflac Duck Loses Voice: When Gilbert Gottfried, the voice of the Aflac Duck, tweeted insensitive remarks following the Japan earthquake/tsunami disaster, Aflac engaged the public to find a replacement.

Allison & Partners – SOS Children’s Villages–USA: Communicating with Donors and Media in the Aftermath of the Haiti Earthquake: Following the earthquake, SOS Children’s Villages handled a media firestorm surrounding 33 children allegedly being taken out of the country by American missionaries via a comms plan that emphasized proper messaging and staff training.

Amerian Airlines and Weber Shandwick – Bomb Threat Response: American Airlines Tweets with Passengers Aboard Flight AA24: When an alleged bomb threat grounded AA Flight 24 in San Francisco, the AA/Weber Shandwick social media teams immediately addressed rumors to the public and communicated with two passengers on the plane.

CommunicationWorks – Minimizing Damage, Maximizing Advantage: When more than 7,000 students’ college entrance tests were incorrectly scored, CommunicationWorks implemented disclosure strategies for schools, parents and the media.

Howard Brown Health Center and PCI – Creating a Lifeline for a LGBTQ Health Center: Rocked by financial mismanagement, the Health Center and Public Communications Inc. successfully restored public confidence in and support for the HBHC by telling a complete and transparent story.

NEI and Burson-Marsteller – Digital Crisis Management for U.S. Nuclear Industry During Japan Crisis: After Japan’s earthquake/tsunami, a crisis of confidence in nuclear power within the U.S. spread. B-M’s digital crisis comms team partnered with the Nuclear Energy Institute to ensure the industry’s nuclear safety messages reached its core audiences.

U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery – Deploying COMFORT to Bring Hope to Haiti: Following notification that USNS Comfort hospital ship—the cornerstone of the U.S. contribution to Haitian relief efforts in the wake of a devastating earthquake—would deploy, the BUMED communications team coordinated national and international press coverage of the deployment.

Weber Shandwick New York – Not Such Easy Going in Big Easy: When the BP oil spill struck, consumers thought New Orleans’ water and renowned seafood had been tainted. To fight the perception, a multi-pronged PR effort with credible spokespeople initiated positive press for the city.


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