Surviving the Storm: Handling a Public Relations Crisis
Seasoned experts share corporate crises on
March 29 at URI
KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 15, 2000 -- What would you do if you were W.R.
Grace and the best selling-novel, "A Civil Action," about a lawsuit
over the leukemia deaths of young children, supposedly resulting from toxic
industrial chemicals from a Grace facility, had just been turned into a
big Hollywood movie starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall?
This is just one of the public relations crises seasoned public relations
experts will share during a provocative and frank panel discussion on Wednesday,
March 29 at the University of Rhode Island at 7:30 p.m.
The evening launches the Manning, Selvage & Lee Distinguished Newsmaker
Lecture Series at URI. Free and open to the public, the event will be held
at 7:30 p.m. in the Galanti Lounge of the URI Library. New York- headquartered
Manning, Selvage & Lee, one of the top five public relations firms in
the country, fund the annual series.
Panelist Jack Agnew, senior partner, AGNEW CARTER/MS&L will tell
how he helped W.R. Grace, a far different company under different management
in 1998 than when the firm settled the lawsuit, get its message across before
its reputation was damaged by the release of "A Civil Action."
Working against time and a $50-million marketing budget from Walt Disney,
Agnew will outline what W.R. Grace did to let the public and the media know
what it stood for, believed in, and practiced in its environmental policies
before the movie blitz overwhelmed them.
Carol Makovich, a 1975 URI alumna and vice president, Worldwide Media
Relations at IBM's corporate headquarters in New York, will recount her
days during the mid 1990s as vice president of RJR Nabisco, Inc., a multinational
consumer-products company. RJR Nabisco was under siege both by tobacco activists
and dissident shareholders. For the corporate communications team that meant
creating communications that clarified complex legal issues and managing
a high-profile proxy battle and other challenges to management's long-term
strategy. From shareholders to consumers, RJR Nabisco faced important questions
requiring thoughtful answers.
Kirk Stewart, vice president of Corporate Communications for Nike Inc.,
and Lonny Unger, a 1977 URI alumnus who is executive vice president, Worldwide
Operations and managing director of Manning, Selvage & Lee, Inc. round
out the panel.
The panel will be moderated by Dr. J. David Pincus who has devoted his
professional life as a practitioner, researcher, counselor/coach and
teacher to the practice and study of management and employee communications
systems, and organizational change and leadership, and their impact on organizational
URI's Journalism and Communications Departments are coordinating the
Winifred Brownell, Dean of Arts & Sciences at URI, notes, "This
new lecture series provides students with an opportunity to learn about
the challenges confronted by public relations experts. We are very pleased
that this inaugural program features two highly successful URI alumni. We
especially want to thank Manning Selvage & Lee, Inc. for its foresight
and generosity in endowing this exciting educational series."
For further information about the event, call URI's Communications Studies
For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116