Major Oil Spill
Situation: Three clients were deeply involved with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one with the spill itself, all three with the crisis control and community remediation efforts.
How we helped: We developed a single, short statement about the company’s commitment to fixing the problem and helping the community. For months, we offered only that statement on the record.
On background, we spent hours educating reporters about our client’s role in the blowout and how their technology works. All of this helped to shape reporters’ understanding but did not result in new media coverage listing our client’s name. We also advised the company to refrain from public finger-pointing amid a very contentious legal battle.
Result: All remained largely invisible to the news media during the crisis itself, but highly visible within the industry and the recovery effort; all emerged thereafter with enhanced reputations within the energy industry.
Situation: A GMO crop not approved for human consumption was found in snack food. Activists were outraged, media coverage was intense.
How we helped: While AMG backgrounded reporters, the company went person-to-person with farmers, shippers, food producers to buy back all of the affected crop.
Result: The client received a crucial “no human health hazard” FDA advisory, and suffered no additional business disruption. Further, the financial consequences remained far below expectation.
Situation: Three hotel guests were hospitalized with Legionnaire’s Disease. The hotel closed for three days for cleaning and testing.
How we helped: All hotel staff were quickly trained in communications with guests and other audiences. There were no disclosures to media by hotel or health authorities. Other guests were given free super-luxury accommodations elsewhere.
Result: The hotel accomplished a matter-of-fact re-opening, and suffered no change to stellar travel media ratings.
Medical Equipment Deaths
Situation: A Sunday New York Times long-form piece hammered the medical device company, alleging its equipment is not only unsafe, but caused the excruciating deaths of multiple patients.
How we helped: With the company’s legal department’s input, we advised sales force to speak to every customer in 48 hours and provided talking points to guide conversations. The company did not pursue a news media-centric response.
Result: Any media coverage dwindled quickly, and the company’s 3,000 institutional customer relationships were actually strengthened.
Nationwide Attorneys General Litigation
Situation: A Monoline lender confronted 49 state attorneys’ general demands for changes in business practices—while combatting a multi-part major investigative series in its headquarters’ town newspaper, as well as others nationally.
How we helped: AMG engaged directly and aggressively with every news media outlet, correcting and addressing every error and unfair allegation. This was done in parallel with direct communication of the soundness of the company’s operations to Wall Street investors.
Result: Company survives intact, completes settlements, and ultimately is sold successfully.
DOJ Antitrust Subpoena
Situation: A Fortune 500 global chemicals manufacturer was subpoenaed by the Department of Justice and faced potential criminal prosecution of the company and CEO for alleged antitrust violations. Various advisors suggested an early and aggressive “transparent” defense.
How we helped: AMG advised a one sentence, muted response so as not to put the company’s credibility at risk and engaged in careful planning with the legal team for every conceivable outcome.
Result: The low-key approach ultimately supported a successful legal team effort to get charges declined.
Recovery from Governance Misconduct
Situation: A leading semiconductor company and its iconic founder were accused by a Wall Street Journal analysis of options backdating. The company’s market capitalization plunged twenty percent in one day, and executives faced intense pressure to “say something.”
How we helped: Comparatively new CEO was positioned to tell Wall Street only that an independent investigation is underway; the events relate to the past; and that the company’s new strategies for success are working.
Result: The market settled down and the ultimate resolution of the investigation is a comparative non-event.
Situation: An energy utility’s major multi-fatality explosion resulted in months of daily hammering in news media; multiple regulatory investigations; and filing of civil and criminal charges.
How we helped: The company’s board was persuaded its core problem was the perception and perhaps reality of a safety deficiency, not a public relations problem. The company’s new management commits itself to invest substantially in becoming a national leader in pipeline safety.
Result: Expert third parties weighed in actively advocating reasonable, not excessive penalties for company. Employees applauded management’s strong stance, and the company gradually recovered and moved forward.
Money Laundering Scheme
The Situation: At a well-known bank, billions of dollars mysteriously went from Moscow to a luncheonette in Queens, to a money center bank to money-laundering haven Vanuatu. This event resulted in highly publicized multi-year investigations in the US, UK and Russia. Various individuals were jailed.
How we helped: AMG advised to cooperate fully and not to use legal delaying tactics. Our litigation communications team advised to make legal filings minimal and say as little as possible until the final resolution was announced. We worked to background serious reporters intensively.
Result: The bank emerged with modest regulatory penalties, no lasting harm to reputation or ability to conduct business.
The Situation: In the wake of a news article that unveiled numerous allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault by company executives, AMG was hired by the independent investigators charged with looking into the allegations to help manage communications about the highly public process.
How we helped: AMG managed all communications about the investigation, from handling inbound media calls, releasing statements on behalf of the company Board and the independent investigators, and advising the Board and investigative team on communications strategy throughout.
Result: Despite having to navigate a highly public process, the investigation was widely commended for being thorough and professionally run, allowing the company Board and management to refocus the company and its employees on business execution.
Non-Profit Financial Misconduct
The Situation: The Board of a popular charitable foundation hired AMG to manage communications strategy following allegations in the media of possible financial misappropriations of donor funds. An internal investigation ultimately led to the dismissal of the foundation’s CEO and COO, and a pledge by the Board of Directors to revamp the organization’s procedures and controls.
How we helped: AMG helped manage a deluge of media interest in the story, which first aired on a popular broadcast news series, through the investigation, change in leadership and announcement of new measures being put in place at the organization. We worked closely with the Board and legal team to craft all internal and external communications strategies and statements, with the primary goal of mitigating any impact to the important mission of the organization.
Result: While there were some near-term impacts shortly following the initial allegations being made public, the organization was able to move through the crisis quickly and re-establish its strong connection to donors and attention on its primary mission.
Fashion Industry Employee Relations
The Situation: An iconic global fashion brand faced allegations internally regarding sexual harassment by a well-known executive.
How we helped: AMG advised on all aspects of communications strategy, including scenario planning for various ways the news could go public.
Result: While the allegations ultimately did go public, the company was well prepared with both a response and steps it had taken to remedy the situation, so the story was short-lived.
Executive Departures and Financial Turnaround
The Situation: After a massive write-off of costs of failed initiatives, a major global corporate services company terminated its CEO and CFO, both highly popular with investors.
How we helped: AMG worked with the Board to position new executives as authors of a go-forward strategy and present a new cutting-edge vision of the industry’s future. This vision included communicating first steps on a series of initiatives, including a promise to fund new projects without cutting investor dividends.
Result: The post-termination share price drop steadily recovered, while media and investor attention to terminations dwindled. In their place, the new vision became starting point for investor considerations of company.
A Multi-party Pharmaceutical Issue
The Situation: Four companies made a pharmaceutical product essential for a genetic disease. For a brief period, the product was manufactured in a harmful way (later corrected by science). As a result, over the next 20 years, approximately 20,000 people died a slow and agonizing death. But for the first decade, as people began to suffer and die, no one tied their disease to the pharmaceutical product.
How we helped:The four companies, which were bitter rivals, hired AMG to represent all four. AMG worked hand in glove with all the companies’ law firms to facilitate communication between the companies. Further, we advised companies to say very little to the media and focus instead on taking the correct actions with those directly affected.
Result: Nearly $1 billion was paid to victims and families within two years of the beginning of the project, with no financial impact on companies or the product. To this day no external audiences are aware of the event, the name of the product, or the names of the companies.
The Situation: A movie theater was the site of a tragic mass shooting during a screening of a popular film. Multiple individuals were killed, and several others injured.
How we helped: We advised the client not to comment publicly and respond to media inquiries with a simple “We are focused on the victims” thematic statement. We did not answer any further reporter questions on security, gun control, or other elements. We also directed management to visit (with no publicity) the victims and their families in the area hospitals and take care of their needs offline (paying for funerals, family travel costs, or whatever was needed). This ensured victims and their families knew that the company was doing the right thing.
Result: The company received very little media coverage and avoided being branded forever as the “shooting” chain—in fact, most people cannot name the chain in which the shooting took place.