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Industry Hospitals, Healthcare facilities & Medical Services
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United Kingdom
Copywriter Jessica Litwin
Released March 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Crisis and Issue Management
Advertiser: HC-ONE
Chief Creative: Dr Chai Patel Cbe (HC-One)
Managing Director: Kevin Craig (Political Lobbying And Media Relations)
Account Director: Christopher Calland (Political Lobbying And Media Relations)
Senior Account Manager: Lisa Bailey (Political Lobbying And Media Relations)
Account Manager: Ros Trinick (Political Lobbying And Media Relations)
Design Lead: David Madden (Political Lobbying And Media Relations)
Copywriter: Jessica Litwin (Political Lobbying And Media Relations)
Media placement: Broadcast - Corporate Communications - The Today Programme: BBC Radio 4 - 27-Sep-11
Media placement: Broadcast - Corporate Communications - BBC Breakfast Show - 27-Sep-11
Media placement: Print - Corporate Communications - Community Care Market News - 01-Nov-11
Media placement: Print - Corporate Communications - Society Guardian - National Newspaper - 19-Oct-11
Media placement: Print Communications - Northampton Evening Telegraph - 05-Jan-12
Media placement: Print - Corporate Communications - The Daily Mail - National Newspaper - 11-Jan-12
Media placement: Print Communications - The Northern Echo - 27-Jan-12
Media placement: Broadcast - Corporate Communications - The One Show: BBC 1 - 02-Feb-12
Media placement: Print Communications - The Independent - National Newspaper - 28-Feb-12
Media placement: Broadcast - Corporate Communications - The Daily Politics Show: BBC 2 - 01-Mar-12

Summary of the Campaign

In the summer of 2011, the UK faced one of the biggest crises it had ever seen in Health and Social Care. Southern Cross, the country’s largest independent elderly care home provider was verging on administration, leaving 14,000 jobs at risk, and over 10,000 elderly people fearing for their homes.

From this crisis emerged many leaders across the health and social care sector. In just 94 days one such team, led by Dr Chai Patel, formed a new company called HC-One and took over 241 care homes that were formerly part of Southern Cross.

The challenge was for HC-One to:
- Overcome the negative legacy of Southern Cross
- Minimise negative media coverage
- Create a new brand and identity underpinned by strong messages
- Provide full strategic crisis communications and 24 hour press report

In the first 3 months of operation, HC-One’s Crisis Communications Team worked alongside stakeholder press offices, the Police and local councils. Over 80 holding statements were drafted in this period alone and the press team leveraged news items to gain positive profile for the fledgling company and its senior management team.

Messages were conveyed to appeal to a specialised audience of politicians and decision makers, to the public, elderly people and their families. The drop in occupancy was tackled and the new company put on a stable footing. This provided reassurance for residents and families. A huge crisis was averted without Government intervention and the destabilisation of thousands of elderly people was avoided.

The Situation
Southern Cross, the UK’s largest care home company, was failing. Thousands of vulnerable people were at risk. The leadership of HC-One wanted it to be the largest company to emerge from Southern Cross’ failure. In order to successfully launch, HC-One needed to ensure that no crises destabilised the new company’s chances of success. The new company established a fully functioning press office across over 240 locations in the UK. It implemented a 24/7 press operation, and rapidly and with integrity earned the trust and respect of the general public, vulnerable home residents, their families, politicians, and the media.

The Goal
To diminish and decrease coverage of crises or negative issues that could destabilise or reduce confidence in HC-One care homes.

To promote HC-One’s key messages that it is committed to the highest and kindest standards of care, that it represented a new start, that it aspired to be Britain’s kindest care home provider.

To spread to millions of people an awareness of the new company and its values.

To deploy rapid, well-planned crisis management and press office systems to minimise destabilisation of and promote confidence in the new company.

Target audiences were the public, politicians, care regulators and media.

The Strategy
To position HC-One as a safe provider to emerge from the Southern Cross crisis, and emphasise it as the only completely new company being formed in record time in order to tackle the situation.

To contrast the differences between the failing Southern Cross and the new HC-One, where the crucial difference was the that properties were owned and operated by one company, removing one of the reasons for the Southern Cross failure.

To highlight the new company’s experience and position it as trustworthy through deployment of intensive 24/7 press office operations.

To engage with all audiences, even difficult media, to convey the company’s ambition to be Britain’s kindest care home provider.

To address the specific challenges of the Health and Social Care sector by deploying different voices for different situations.

To base all crisis management action around HC-One’s values of kindness, accountability, involvement and partnership.

Full nationwide press office launched one month before the launch of HC-One and still in operation 7 months later, including a 24 hour press line with calls cascaded to 5 allocated press officers.

Every single potential crisis was reported to the press office and given a tailored response.

Potential crises here addressed, processed and then met with positive stories.

A press release issued to target local media announced job opportunities with HC-One.

Dedicated websites and Twitter feeds detailing job opportunities were launched.

Press releases announcing several HC-One senior appointments were tailored to local media in each area and issued.

Target local media were sent tailored press releases reminding them it was one week to go before HC-One was taking over care homes in their area.

Target local media sent tailored press releases announcing the launch of HC-One in their area.

Every elected politician for the areas affected was written to.

Documented Results
A new company was formed in a record time of 94 days, winning universal confidence through flawless crisis management. Not one single person was forced out of their home nor was any taxpayer’s money spent bailing out the failed Southern Cross. Most importantly for the company, HC-One reassured 10,000 residents and their families.

HC-One experienced a halt in the drop in occupancy, stabilising occupancy and protecting 14,000 jobs.

HC-One received over 150 pieces of positive media coverage.

Since launch, 83 individual pieces of crisis and issues management have been handled, resulting in over 100 pieces of coverage appearing, including national coverage, in which HC-One was not mentioned by name.

Dr Chai Patel spoke to millions via outlets including Radio 4’s Today Programme, The Guardian, Daily Politics, BBC Breakfast, and ITV news. Board Member Anne Williams spoke to care professionals through more consumer oriented media such as the One Show.