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2020 PRSA Silver Anvil Winner

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2020 PRSA Silver Anvil Winner

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


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 message pickup: safety of students/protesters 

  • Opportunity for community engagement: uniformly positive social media messages by community members reinforced community support of students

  • 2020 Public Relations Society of America national Silver Anvil Award winner for crisis communications

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