Monday, February 16, 2009

Exploding Satellites, Rapid Response

When an Iridium communications satellite slammed into a Russian one at 22,000 miles per hour it forced one company into crisis mode, while creating a unique public relations opportunity for another, unrelated firm.

The spectacular collision on Tuesday, February 10th nearly 500 miles above the Earth created a debris cloud that presents a remote threat to other satellites, as well as the international space station.
Although its satellite phone service will only be moderately affected for a brief period of time, Iridium’s communications team moved quickly, issuing a corporate statement and making top executives available for comment. (Image of Iridium satellite courtesy of

The communications leadership at Integral Systems moved just as rapidly. A provider of satellite command and control systems for commercial and government customers, Integral was in a unique position to provide journalists with an understanding of why the accident occurred and its potential implications.

The company’s public relations team reached out to a number of business journalists who had been assigned to cover the story. (Full disclosure, Integral has been a Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) client for nearly a decade.)

The resulting editorial in respected media outlets like the Washington Post and Associated Press further solidified Integral’s leadership in the market.

Integral’s rapid response media outreach proved successful because the company adhered to a number of important best practices, including:

1. Focus on how you can address the “why” when calling on journalists. The purpose of the outreach is to serve as a valuable resource for reporters, rather than hyping your company and its products.

2. Have a knowledgeable and engaging spokesperson available based on tight reporter deadlines. In Integral’s campaign, it was CEO John Higginbotham who made speaking with journalists a priority.

3. Understand your place in the article. It may just be a quote at the end of the story. That’s fine. This is high-value visibility, plus serving as a quality resource to a journalist on deadline cultivates a relationship.

1 comment:

Mike Spear said...

Nice job of your client finding a way in. If you or your reader don't use HARO yet you may want to keep an eye on it because it often will give you a way into other people's stories.

I don't know if it we were necessarily creative recently but it did do the trick in making a litte lemonade out of a sour situation .....

When our umbrella organization Genome Canada was in the Globe and Mail 2 days in a row over what was NOT in the Federal Budget for them in late January I got calls from the media on what it meant to us at Genome Alberta ( we're a non-for-profit group of research organizations who rely on gov't funding ). I had to do something to turn it around and not do a series of fed bashing interviews.

After the fuss subsided I did a blog entry on it all that outlines our approach though I did dial my mood back a bit because it could have been handled better starting immediately after the budget was tabled.

We made use of Facebook, our Facebook Genomics App, and Twitter to get the word out with a message that was all about us.

Like the poor satellite folks there is still a wee bit of a problem to be dealt with but we mitigated the fallout.