2020 PRSA Silver Anvil Finalist
A charming, diverse and eclectic resort city nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak finds itself in a crisis crossfire when hate comes to town
Challenge: Manitou Springs was shocked to learn their high school was targeted by the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), known for blistering protests against the gay community, celebrating soldiers’ funerals and a long history of suing for any infringement of their free speech. Equally concerning was the potential counter-protestors’ response in an open carry state.
M&C Communications developed a proactive school, community and media communications strategy to promote a safe protest/counter-protest while honoring 1st Amendment rights. M&C leveraged key research, media relations, community relations, and extensive social messaging and monitoring during planning meetings and throughout the planned protest.
M&C's crisis management plan contributed to a peaceful protest with a limited impact on students and no legal action. Goals included:
Low media coverage: the event was covered only by half the local media outlets with no national media coverage
Key message pickup: all local media coverage included key mesage pickup: safety of students/protesters
Opportunity for community engagement: uniformly positive social media messages by community members reinforced community support of students