Crisis case study

Case A – One of Europe’s largest manufacturers of plastic piping systems

One of Europe’s largest manufacturers of plastic piping systems was involved in an inquest where there had been a death in a nursing home due to one of its pipes bursting. The client was concerned that its reputation would be severely damaged if it was shown that the pipe was faulty and more importantly if the brand was named in the Coroner’s court.

Prior to this appointment the company had drafted a letter to send to its huge customer base and set up a hotline with scripted answers for enquiries. We informed the client that none of this was likely to be necessary and we immediately put a media protocol in place for any media enquiries. We then prepared pre-inquest and post inquest statements for every possible outcome including if the product was named or not.

We also attended the first and final day of the inquest to liaise with the legal team and any journalists who were in attendance. An accidental death verdict was delivered with recommendations by the Coroner. We produced a statement expressing sympathy and welcoming the Coroner’s recommendations to only be released if any publication named the product and requested a response. The client was not named in any subsequent news report and its reputation remained intact.

Case B – The owner of private nurseries and Government policy advisor

The owner of a private nursery found her nursery and its staff at the centre of an inquest after a child died after choking. The owner had drafted a letter to all parents prior to the inquest which we said should not be sent as it would alert the public to the incident and could be prejudicial to the outcome of the inquest. We immediately put a media protocol in place prior to the inquest and drafted a short holding statement.

We attended for the first day of the inquest to gauge press interest and to hear the evidence. From the start, in discussion with the legal team, it seemed most likely that the outcome would be “accidental death” so we drafted a statement. The Coroner’s summing up showed the nursery staff did all they could but he did issue some recommendations as to first-aid training.

Despite the original inquest having been trailed by the national media, we ensured interest in the inquest was focused on the ambulance service’s actions. Again the client’s reputation remained intact and the client was not mentioned negatively in the media coverage.

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