2014 PR News Agency Elite Awards: Crisis Management

Winner: MassMedia Corporate Communications – Nevada Health CO-OP

The Nevada Health CO-OP, Nevada’s only nonprofit health insurance provider on the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, faced a full-blown PR crisis in late 2013 when the state exchange encountered complications that led to hundreds of patients not receiving the tools and information they needed and many found that they were not covered to see their primary care physicians. Although the CO-OP was not to blame for the mishap, many members did so anyway—some going to Las Vegas news outlets with their complaints.

Luckily, the CO-OP had retained MassMedia Corporate Communications to manage its media relations efforts since 2012. MassMedia quickly developed a multi-phase strategy to correct the public perception that the CO-OP was at fault for the communication issues. The media relations team first did a series of interviews with media outlets to clarify the CO-OP was not the cause of the coverage issues and to highlight the CO-OP’s efforts to help patients access care as quickly as possible. MassMedia followed up that effort by pitching stories that would direct attention toward the nonprofit’s many assets, such as its diverse coverage options and the newly opened walk-in care center.

It is MassMedia’s philosophy to network tirelessly with the media and develop personal relationships with the reporters, editors and producers who shape their clients’ media coverage. By proactively pitching stories that enhanced rather than detracted from the CO-OP’s public image, MassMedia was able to secure overall more clips focusing on the positive aspects of enrolling: A Huffington Post article in February 2014 described the CO-OP as “arguably the most successful co-op in the country.” Thanks to MassMedia’s campaign, the CO-OP secured 65 balanced and positive stories between January 1 and March 1, bolstering consumer confidence in the CO-OP’s ability to provide essential health insurance to Nevadans.

Honorable Mentions:

  • 451 Marketing – FORUM Bar and Restaurant
  • MWW Group – Changing the Conversation through Crisis Communication