2013 Platinum PR Awards: Crisis Management

Winner: LIVESTRONG Foundation - From the Crisis Trenches: Blazing a New Trail in Communications

In 2012 and early 2013, the world watched as Lance Armstrong’s fabled cycling career crashed. Caught in the crossfire was the LIVESTRONG Foundation, the highly respected nonprofit Armstrong created to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. With every new development in the cycling scandal, media turned to the charity for its reaction. As it was reluctantly pulled further and further into the coverage, the stakes couldn’t have been higher for the nonprofit.

In November 2012, after Armstrong resigned as chairman of the organization, the Foundation retained a firm to conduct public opinion research and ultimately developed two immediate primary goals: The first was to clarify that the LIVESTRONG Foundation exists to serve people and families struggling with cancer, not a celebrity athlete; the second was the prioritization of three prime target groups to receive that message—women, caregivers and people under the age of 40.

For the six days leading up to Armstrong’s critical sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey, the communications team worked around the clock executing the plan, crafting surrogate communications talking points and schedules for national news programs, booking the Foundation’s CEO on the Today Show and National Public Radio, crafting and placing a USA Today op-ed and delivering talking points for board members, staff, donors and supporters.

The Foundation issued a statement on January 16, 2013, to address the influx of media inquiries leading up to Armstrong’s confessional with Winfrey. Immediately following the interview, which aired on Jan. 17, the Foundation issued a final statement responding to Armstrong’s confessions of cheating throughout much of his cycling career and its disappointment at being misled.

The effectiveness of the LIVESTRONG Foundation’s communications and marketing strategy will be measured at key moments throughout the year through polling, supporter focus groups, in-depth interviews and surveys. Bearing in mind its key targets, it will focus on broad-swath outreach to women and Americans under 40, as well as micro-targeting to caregivers. Course adjustments will be made in rapid order to amplify the Foundation’s effectiveness throughout an initial 12-month horizon.

Honorable Mentions:

  • American Red Cross - Bracing for a Superstorm: How the American Red Cross Handled the Challenges of Hurricane Sandy
  • APCO Worldwide - MF Global Inc. Trustee
  • Bank of America - Response to Super Sandy
  • Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens - Hurricane Sandy
  • Cone Communications - Protecting Brand Reputation from a Plant Closure
  • Homefront Communications - Stop Big Trucks
  • Marketing Minds at Work - 2013 ZORA! Festival: From Crisis to Congratulations

Comments Off


About Chris Seymour

Steve Goldstein is editorial director for Access Intelligence’s PR News brand, which encompasses premium, how-to content, data and competitive intelligence for public relations professionals; PR News Online; PR News conferences, webinars and awards programs; and PR News guidebooks. Previously at AI Steve was editorial director of min, min ’s b2b and minonline as well as managing editor of CableFAX: The Magazine and CableWorld. Before joining Access Intelligence, he was executive editor of World Screen News, and editor of Film/Tape World, which covered film, television and commercial production in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Measurement Conference 

Media Relations ConferenceJoin PR News at the National Press Club on Dec. 11 for the Media Relations Conference, where you'll learn how to tie your media relations initiatives to business goals, use the right metrics to prove the success of your efforts, incorporate social media in a brand crisis and more.

Use code “150” at checkout to save $150 on the regular rate.

Get $50 off PR News' Crisis Management Guidebook


Crisis management is an art, not a science. In this edition of PR News’ Book of Crisis Management Strategies & Tactics, you will discover many different views on this art, and you are certain to find takeaways that will transform the way your organization handles crises. 

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.