Date: 31 Jul 2014

Crisis Management: Florida Keys & Keys West

Project: Crisis Management

Client: Florida Keys & Key West

Task: To minimise the negative impact of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on the Florida Keys brand in the UK

We had to work quickly when one of the world’s worst environmental disasters took place. Following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, 4.9 million barrels of oil discharged into the Gulf of Mexico. 

The oil pumped into the sea for an interminable 87 days before the well was finally capped and sealed, but not before it had reached the coasts, and pictures spread around the world of poisoned marine life and polluted waters.

One of the areas affected was the Florida Keys.

Implementation: kbc has a great deal of experience dealing with crises, from hurricanes to shark attacks to rioting passengers. However, never has a crisis had such a profound emotional effect. Whilst the story of the disaster raged in the USA, in Britain the media was relatively quiet. Our job was to keep it that way, whilst ensuring that the Florida Keys was kept out of the spotlight.

Our challenge was to report the right level of information to the UK media so they were kept informed of the true picture in the Florida Keys as opposed to the worse situation in other areas. We also had to deliver market-specific advice to our client. Whilst the story was huge in domestic US media, in the UK and Europe it was relatively low profile and we didn’t wish to bring the story ‘up the agenda’ of the travel press.

We liaised regularly with our client to receive updates on the situation and kept lines of communication open with our key media contacts. By adopting this approach of delivering the facts in an open but measured way, we minimised the negative impact on the Florida Keys, and managed to keep the brand largely disassociated with the disaster.

Results: Once the well had been capped, we were able to promote the positive news that the majority of Florida beaches were open for business, and react to any specific media requests for information as they came in; in truth, very few did.

In all cases of crisis management, our goal is to either minimise the coverage or stop it appearing altogether and, we are proud to say we have become experts. We consider effective crisis management to be one of our key agency strengths.