Winner: Singer Associates Public Affairs/Public Relations - The $70 million press conference
After Singer Associates successfully used media opportunities and community pressure, PG&E and the city of San Bruno held a press conference on March 12, 2012, a year and a half after the largest natural gas disaster in US history, announcing PG&E’s issuance of $70 million dollars in restitution to the city. A nonprofit public purpose entity was then established to manage the funds and determine how they should be spent in the community.
The press conference was the culmination of a process that began on Sept. 9, 2010, when the largest natural gas disaster in US history occurred in the city of San Bruno, CA, killing eight, destroying 38 homes and damaging another 70. After the devastation ensued, the city of San Bruno entered into negotiations with PG&E to seek restitution for the damages to their city and families. After more than a year of negotiations, PG&E walked away from the negotiating table, leaving San Bruno wracked with physical damage and families emotionally scarred from the experience of losing their loved ones and homes.
In the midst of the crisis, Singer Associates was brought on to develop strategy and communications that would ultimately bring PG&E back to the table and provide $70 million in restitution for the grievances suffered by this small city. Singer Associates was tasked with telling San Bruno's gut wrenching story of devastation in order to build political, emotional and media pressure on PG&E to come back to the negotiating table and provide restitution in a situation where there was no legal recourse.
Singer Associates intended to use the media as a platform to call out PG&E for their failure to negotiate in good faith with the city of San Bruno. Since negotiations had stalled, Singer used the opportunity to lambast the company in the press, which pressured PG&E to resume negotiations and come to an agreement that would support the community's quest to attain resources to rebuild infrastructure and improve the community.
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