Guest Post: PR reps. prepared for Kennedy’s death

This is an anonymous guest post. The author wanted to remain anonymous due to his/her position.

Events such as arrests, illness and extramarital affairs can be nightmares for a PR practitioner. However, if you’re not prepared, the worst can be the death of a client. It is very unlikely that you will ever have to deal with the death of a client, but if the situation should arise, it is important for your PR team to be prepared.

The handling of Senator Ted Kennedy’s death last week is a prime example of a press team that was prepared.

Every detail was set within a few hours of the Senator’s passing. The family’s press team released a statement from the family announcing his death and securing plans for his viewing, service, mass and burial. His Facebook page was quickly turned into an online memorial for all of his “fans” and his Web site became populated by stories from people who were close to him.

By the next day, a plan for his memorial was released to the media. This included the notification that press viewings would be pooled (a term that meant the news stations shared the newsfeed so that the press didn’t swarm the family).

The detailed plan was not something that could have been created quickly. The plan had Kennedy’s body lie in repose for two days at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. A memorial service was held at the library and speakers included several high profile people.

His funeral mass was held at the church that he attended daily when his daughter was ill with lung cancer and it featured readings from his family as well as a eulogy delivered by President Obama.

After the conclusion of the service, Kennedy’s body and family members were flown to Washington D.C., where Congressional staffers said their goodbyes as the motorcade stopped at the Capital before arriving at Arlington Cemetery, where he was laid to rest next to his brothers, John and Robert.

It is obvious that the events after Kennedy’s death had been well thought out and represented a memorial that would please the public and press, but also allow his family to grieve appropriately.

As PR professionals, we should follow in the footsteps of the Kennedy press team. A PR team needs to prepare, rehearse and react in a crisis. If that happens, you will have the ability to control the crisis and the message.

Leave a Reply