Crisis communications response and management
Bin Laden family donations to Harvard reported during live CNN television coverage on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Discredit implications of a university link to terrorism and 9/11 attacks.
* Quickly provided details of actual gift from Bin Laden family, who had long ago disowned their terrorist sibling.
* Assured public that fund raising process has safeguards built in.
* Emphasized nature of gift relating to art and architecture.
* Researched other examples of Bin Laden family funding projects for governments, corporations and other non-profits.
* Worked closely with media leading public investigation to ensure that the university’s perspective was well-expressed.
* Refocused attention of donors to fundraising efforts that enable positive improvements to society.
Swine Flu Outbreak
Dental School students working at a public clinic were the first local cases of the same swine flu that was causing panic across the United States.
Prove and protect the university’s credibility as a trusted and responsible community institution.
* Conceived and authored first university-wide Emergency Communications Plan used as the guide for responding to public health crises.
* Emphasized principles of relevancy and transparency
through joint press conferences with City mayor and State and local public health officials.
* Managed full spectrum of communications tools to keep community informed, including media access to chief medical officer, text alerts, social media, web pages, email, and push phone messaging.
* Reduced internal anxieties by emphasizing that students were quarantined and publicizing extensive cleaning projects.
Harvard and MIT researchers fed radioactive oatmeal to special needs children during 1950’s era research.
Acknowledge then move story to improved contemporary research practices that ensure similar incidents do not occur today.
* Organized joint team between universities to coordinate public response.
* Publicly acknowledged past wrongdoings.
* Established credibility by quickly releasing details in the context of research norms of the time.
* Emphasized the university’s contemporary 'human subjects' safeguards and informed consent standards.
* Provided perspective by leading reporters to established data showing radiation exposure was less than airplane flight from Boston to New York City.