2016 Agency Elite Awards: Crisis Management

Winner: LDWWgroup - Ensuring the Safety of Yemeni Hostages

In 2015, Transoceanic Development was busy quietly supporting humanitarian organizations and delivering relief items to people in war-torn Yemen. While delivering much-needed aid to the country, and in the midst of U.S.-backed Saudi-led air strikes in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, Transoceanic’s logistics manager Scott Darden and security consultant Sam Farran were taken hostage by Houthi rebels. The U.S. State Department, the FBI Hostage Unit and the United Nations advised that news stories could endanger the lives of the captives.

LDWWgroup outlined a plan to prevent new media coverage to minimize danger to the men being held captive and avoid endangering other Transoceanic employees still operating in the country. While hoping for a peaceful resolution, LDWWgroup worked with a variety of stakeholders to prepare holding statements, FAQs, employee communications and family statements to address a range of possible outcomes. When the government of Oman finally confirmed the pending release of Darden and Farren, LDWWgroup worked closely with more than 10 global media organizations to withhold their stories until the hostages were safely in U.S. custody. Ultimately, LDWWgroup successfully addressed the needs of the global media community, while downplaying the role of Transoceanic to help minimize the company’s inclusion in the stories and shielding the Darden and Farren families from an onslaught of interview requests by underscoring the importance of respecting the privacy of the families.