Crisis communication

Issue

  • An article published in a daily business newspaper on “Purchase of Metro Croatia by Kaufland” on Friday, March 13th 2009
  • Information on “Metro Croatia finally sold to Kaulfand, after a few unsuccessful attempts to be sold to different (competitors’) companies” for a much lower price than originally planned

  • Allegedly major lay-offs planned in Metro Croatia and Chairman of the Board leaving country and returning to Metro HQ in Duesseldorf, Germany 



Response

  • Immediate allignment with Metro HQ in Duesseldorf and Kaufland Croatia; joint work on press statements
  • Set-up of crisis team: Heads of Marketing/Corp Comms department, Purchase, HR, Operations + Pleon Dialog 
  • Continuous telephone and email consultancy with the Chairman of the Board 
  • First (morning) telephone and personal communication to key suppliers and employees to reassure them that the information published is a lie
  • Basic telephone denials/short statements to journalists who personally called during morning
  • First press release draft finished by 12:00 hrs (by Metro Croatia), final version approved at 13:30 (by Metro HQ)
  • Web portal limun.hr publishes morning article at 9:24, Nacional.hr at 11:12, Serbian emPortal at 12:27 (through agency Beta), T-portal at 13:00, Dnevno.hr at 14:12
  • Press release included both statements from Metro Croatia and Metro HQ in Duesseldorf
  • Press statement obtained from Kaufland at 13:00
  • Agreement on sending the statements from one source (agency’s email account), to a joint media database
  • Press statements sent out at 14:00 hrs
  • Press statements published by Croatian, Slovenian and Serbian media
  • Parallell work on letter to employees and suppliers, both finished and distributed by 14:00 hrs
  • Consultancy with lawyers’s office and production of a special letter to the source of information that ‘Metro Croatia is seriously reviewing legal measures against the newspaper and its publisher’. Letter sent to the newspaper and the (foreign) publisher at 16:00 hrs  
  • Continuous monitoring of web portals



Outcome

  • Only web media (six portals in total) took over and published morning’s article from the daily newspaper
  • All the other portals, as well as all the other media (print/2, incl. BHR, radio/1-101, TV/1-Kapital Network) on Friday 13th and in the following days published only denial of the news
  • Parrarell statements of Metro and Kaulfand, as well as statement from Metro HQ, added to credibility of the message
  • Panic amongst employees and suppliers was put under control at an early stage, official reassurance was sent within few hours (same day)
  • Clear message sent to the source of information that serious legal measures will be undertaken if they publish a lay like this ever again