When Is a Shipwreck Not a Public Relations Crisis?
May 31, 2016
May 31, 2016
The real estate industry is fascinating. We have the privilege of working with people changing city skylines, providing affordable housing, creating communities and reshaping the public realm. And, sometimes this work becomes extra exciting, often for a crisis: accidents, natural disasters, financial challenges or corporate drama.
This week we were fortunate enough to find a public relations unicorn – an exciting non-crisis that became a trending sensation for good reasons.
This was a terrific lesson for some of our younger staff. Yes, it was busy and demanding and a bit crazy at times. It required long hours – drafting talking points, coordinating with the city, and escorting media around the site. But, it wasn’t a crisis. It was just an exciting discovery in which we were lucky to play a small part.
Our longtime client, Skanska Commercial Development, unearthed what appeared to be a boat at the construction site for 121 Seaport, a new office tower slated for Boston’s Seaport District. After discussions with the City of Boston archaeologist and other experts, word began to leak. What followed was nothing short of a media frenzy in the best sense of the word. And, to Skanska’s credit, they leaned in. We set up interviews with our client alongside the archaeologist and facilitated tours of the find. Local Skanska executives had fun with the story in interviews – despite “Gilligan’s Island” references and endless questions. I never imagined knowing so much about tidal flats, barrels of lime or shipping. But it was all fascinating – to us and the media. For most of us it was first time at the center of a trending story: #SeaportShipwreck
From ABC World News Tonight filming the ship with an iPhone at 6:15pm for a 6:30pm broadcast to all five local news stations on-site for a media briefing – which we were also live tweeting – it was a true viral sensation. Ultimately, the result was a terrific outcome for Skanska’s brand, as they were repeatedly praised for preserving history and respecting the documentation and investigative process. After all, the shipwreck interrupted the building’s construction schedule for a full week.
The lesson here? ‘Crazy busy’ doesn’t have to mean crisis – it can just be a really exciting day in public relations.