CLEVELAND, December 5, 2014 – For the sixth year in a row, Hennes Paynter Communications has won a Gold Rocks Award from the Public Relations Society of America, Greater Cleveland Chapter. The firm was recognized for a program it created and carried out for a forestry client in Australia.
The company retained Hennes Paynter after media coverage erroneously reported that large numbers of koala bears had been killed or injured during tree harvesting at the company’s plantations. Although news reports were exaggerated, the misinformation spread rapidly, leading to the suspension of an important industry certification – a move that threatened the company’s reputation and its market share.
Hennes Paynter moved quickly to develop a comprehensive communications program to tell the company’s side of the story, correct misinformation about its wildlife management practices and highlight its work to strengthen policies and procedures to manage areas supporting koalas. With messages and tactics in place, the company began an aggressive campaign to set the record straight with the media and simultaneously inform its other stakeholders of what it was doing to protect Australia’s most iconic symbol and valued treasure. Ultimately, the company regained its industry certification. After being widely criticized for its wildlife management practices, the company was ultimately lauded by one of its biggest critics, who eventually characterized the company as the “shining light” for the industry.
“This program demonstrates why telling your side of the story is so important – even when the odds seem stacked against you,” said Bruce Hennes, managing partner of Hennes Paynter Communications. “By working relentlessly to correct misinformation and share the facts with those groups who were important to this issue, our client’s organization not only survived a serious threat to its business, it made enormous strides building a reputation for doing the right thing. We were pleased to play a role in helping this company carry out this program in a ‘make or break’ situation.”
Founded in 1989, Hennes Paynter Communications focuses exclusively on helping clients manage their communications response to reputational challenges, crisis events and other issues that threaten their ability to operate successfully in the marketplace. The firm serves public and private companies, non-profit organizations, government agencies and educational institutions that find themselves “on trial” in the court of public opinion. Led by partners Bruce Hennes and Barbara Paynter, the firm is widely recognized for its ability to counsel corporate, non-profit and institutional leaders when developments threaten their organization’s future growth and even their future existence.