Crisis Communications for Deadly Natural Gas Explosion
A pure natural gas distributor was implicated in a home explosion in which two elderly people were killed. The company faced backlash due to extensive media coverage, including pictures of cleanup crews in hazmat suits. Making matters worse, it was reported that the explosion could have been prevented if the company had responded to reports from neighbors who smelled natural gas.
In addition to facing public criticism, the company had to respond to results from an investigation by state regulators. With its reputation under threat, the company needed to take immediate action.
Public Strategies was engaged to direct the company’s communications in the wake of the explosion. We quickly implemented a plan to ensure the company drove the daily news reporting and public dialogue. We developed messages that addressed the immediate needs and concerns of the company’s key audiences — victim’s families, affected neighbors, customers, media, city officials, and regulators.
We implemented an aggressive outreach strategy, providing company executives with multiple platforms to communicate with important audiences in a timely manner. The company took the lead in releasing information to the media, ensuring daily news cycles were driven by company actions.
The company mitigated the fallout from the explosion and remains the largest pure natural gas distributor in the United States, and now has a crisis communications plan to follow in the event of a future crisis.