Communication in a Crisis

In Case Studiesby getpushing

ISSUE:

Pushing the Envelope, Inc. (PTE) is contracted as the agency of record for DOCK5 restaurants, The Dock at Crayton Cove (DCC) and Riverwalk at Tin City (RWK). Both are open-air restaurants located 1.2 miles apart along Naples Bay. Open about 40 years, the tourist-loved restaurants have seen many storms, but Hurricane Irma (IRMA) would be one of the worst. IRMA was projected to make landfall as a Cat. 4 on Sept. 10, 2017, with potential effects of high storm surge, winds in excess of 74 mph, flooding, tornadoes, and widespread power outages. Located on the waterfront, both restaurants faced a high risk for damage that could result in closures for an indeterminate amount of time and loss of income for the restaurants. With limited time to prepare for closures, PTE researched and crafted a crisis communication plan (CCP) to ensure the target audience – patrons of both restaurants – would be informed to mitigate confusion and potential monetary impact.

OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGY:

  • Raise patrons’ awareness of DOCK5 closures via digital media as measured by at least a 25% email open rate (2,562) and reaching 10% of DOCK5’s Facebook (FB) audience (736) on Sept. 7
  • Inform patrons by Sept. 26 of updates via digital media as measured by a 25% email open rate and reach 10% of DOCK5’s FB audience
  • Leverage publicity the week after IRMA to inform locals of the damage and the week prior to reopening as measured by 3 stories in local publications
  • Inform patrons of the reopening the day-of via digital media, as measured by a 25% email open rate, reaching 10% of DOCK5’s FB audience, and targeting 10,000 locals via FB ads.

When DOCK5 ownership decided to close PTE distributed an email to patrons about the closure and posted on both DOCK5 FB pages. IRMA made landfall about 18 miles away from the restaurants. DCC sustained substantial damage to the roof. RWK sustained no damage, but Tin City, the complex where RWK is located, had severe damage and no power. DCC remained closed during repairs and RWK could not reopen until Tin City reopened.

PTE crafted a FB post addressing DCC’s damage, explaining that the restaurant would be closed indefinitely and offering sympathies to others impacted by IRMA. PTE later created and distributed an email informing patrons that both restaurants would be closed indefinitely. This was supported by additional FB posts and cover image changes.

PTE communicated frequently with local media, including the major local daily, Naples Daily News (NDN), as it reported on the local damage. PTE sent a news release to media and visitor/convention bureaus (15 regional organizations) about the restaurants reopening. An email was distributed, and FB posts were published simultaneously the morning of the reopening to inform patrons. FB ads were placed, targeting those in the Naples area, both fans and non-fans.

RESULTS

Both restaurants reopened with strong support, despite continued recovery area-wide. All goals were met.
  • An email was sent to DOCK5’s database which garnered a 32% open rate (3,143), surpassing the Restaurant/Bar average of 15.6% and the objective. Posts were published on DOCK5 FB pages. Posts on the DCK FB page reached 535 people of 3,463 (15.4%) and engaged 47 people, while RWK reached 867 people of 3,893 (22.2%) and engaged 124.
  • A DCC FB post earned 50 shares and reached 7,298 people, with 1,322 engaged. FB cover image posts were updated, reaching 1,522 for RWK and 4,017 for DCC. A second email was sent about the continued closure with an open rate of 34% (3,373).
  • Media relations started quickly after the storm, resulting in 2 dedicated stories and a mention in NDN, a mention in a News-Press article, and a big bonus of 1 inclusion in a USA TODAY article. A DCC reopening news release generated 1 dedicated news story in NDN and a FB post was shared, earning 451 likes and 105 shares, reaching 23,561. RWK had 1 shared story on the front page of NDN announcing its reopening with Tin City.
  • An email was sent announcing DCC’s reopening, generating a 27% open rate (2,710), and a FB post with 11 shares, reaching 4,523 people. A RWK reopening email was sent and a FB post was shared earning a 27% open rate (2,723) and 18 shares and 7,132 reached, respectively.
  • PTE deployed 1 FB reopening ad per restaurant, at $50 each targeting locals. DCC’s ad reach was 3,727 with 4,769 impressions. RWK’s ad focused on exposure and gained 85,507 impressions, reaching 5,292 people. PTE’s live-stream of the Tin City reopening event garnered 9,417 views and 1,339 engagements.