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When it comes to Crisis Communications, Regan & Boy Scouts Know You Have to ‘Be Prepared’

Maintaining effective public relations during a crisis situation is challenging.  When organizations are under the intense spotlight of negative media coverage and facing potential physical or financial collapse – the stakes can be unbelievably high.

When it comes to crisis communications and crisis management, Regan Communications has few, if any, peers in the world of public relations.  Our expertise is deeply rooted, as many members of our PR firm have legitimate experience as reporters and news managers. Because we have often experienced crisis communications while working as journalists, our clients can trust Regan Communications will know exactly how reporters will act in these situations, and how we can best avoid damage to our clients’ reputations and business interests. Regan proactively creates crisis communications plans so our clients have strong guidelines, chain of command and a course of action once a crisis hits.  But what really differentiates Regan from other PR firms in crisis communications is that we understand that all crisis situations are different, and each demand a response and strategy specifically tailored to that situation.  One size does not fit all.  Any PR firm can put words down on paper and call it a “plan”.  That plan is worthless without an experienced public relations practitioner who knows how to manage that plan and can quickly react to changing situations.  One example of a client that was in “crisis mode” for years is the Boy Scouts Boston Minuteman Council, which has now entered a new “crisis-free” era, thanks in large part to its partnership with Regan Communications.

Until very recently, the national Boy Scouts of America maintained a membership policy that excluded homosexuals.  This presented a problem for the Boy Scouts Boston Minuteman Council, which exists in a progressive city and relies heavily on financial donations from Boston business leaders, many of whom considered the national policy to be discriminatory.  Even though the Boston Boy Scouts did not ever discriminate against anyone, the organization was consistently hounded by media outlets in regards to the national policy.  We would field calls every week for months at a time, from media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe and National Public Radio, all of them looking to tie Boston to that national membership policy.  We handled each request differently, based on the line of questioning and the type of media outlet we were dealing with.  But the bottom line was we were not allowing the Boston Minuteman Council to be involved in any story about the issue.  We were in a constant crisis communication triangle with the media and national Boy Scouts, as the Boston Minuteman Council needed to appear inclusive and non-discriminatory (which it is) in a way that did not upset the organization’s national office, but yet satisfied the media.

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Regan Communications helped the Boy Scouts remain strong in Boston by playing strong defense against attempts to generate negative stories that portrayed the Boston organization as being in lock-step with the national policy, AND by being aggressive in promoting the good things that the Boy Scouts are doing to benefit Boston and surrounding communities.  We focused like a laser beam on the Boston Minuteman Council’s efforts to revive and enhance Scouting in Boston’s inner-city neighborhoods.  With the black cloud of the national policy dominating the national headlines, Regan Communications was still able to generate positive news stories about inner-city Scouting in major print and broadcast media.  The cover of The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine featured a young African-American Boy Scout, and the story inside lauded the Council’s inner-city program, but didn’t mention “the issue”.  Just a few months BEFORE the national Boy Scouts voted to do away with the old membership policy, Regan convinced the Globe to write a follow-up story on the wild success of the Council’s inner-city program in Boston.  That also landed on the front page, and despite the fact that the membership issue was dominating national headlines at the time, there was not a mention of it in the follow-up story on inner-city Scouting in Boston.

This fall, Boy Scouts will be out in neighborhoods across the state, seeking donations for its “Scouting for Food” program, and they will be warmly received.  The organization has weathered the storm.  This was accomplished by implementing a crisis communications plan that stressed discipline and flexibility.  Regan was in daily communication with the Boston Minuteman Council, which ensured we never wavered from delivering a positive message to media, never allowed the Council to be involved in any negative stories on the national membership policy, and always adjusted quickly to new situations that threatened the Council’s position in Boston.

A new generation of Boston youth is now participating in the Boy Scouts, without the stigma it unfairly had to carry due to an outdated national policy.

-Sean Martin

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