One Crisis that Created PR

Crisis communication is very important in the world of Public Relations. Actually, it is why we have public relations in the first place. It all began on April 20, 1914 in Ludlow Colorado when the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel & Iron company guards attacked about 1,200 striking coal miners and their families. Around 20 people were killed during the massacre and after this happened, the company of the coal miners was responsible for making a statement on the issue and trying to make things right for the victims and also for the image of their company.

The Rockefeller who owned the company where this took place, was under a lot of scrutiny and now had to do something for their image. This is when they hired Ivy Ledbetter Lee as their PR representative. Ivy Lee worked very hard to get John D. Rockefeller to see what he had done wrong in this case.

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Ivy Lee (via Harris & Ewing from wikipedia.org)

A few things that Ivy Lee did well for this incident that can also be helpful in any crisis management situation are:

  • He was open and honest with reporters
  • He was against corporate secrecy
  • The goal of PR is NOT to fool the public

Lee also forced John D. Rockefeller to meet with the coal miners and their families by having a dinner with them. This helped in two ways. One way this was helpful for their image was that Rockefeller was able to come to his senses and realize that the miners were right in the reason they were in strike. Also, Ivy Lee was able to document this dinner and take pictures for the media to show that the Rockefeller family was taking care
of the issue and this helped salvage their reputation.

Learn more from this great article about Ivy Ledbetter Lee

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