FedEx staff take credit for kickstarting PR campaign

MEMPHIS: Fed Ex's crisis PR campaign to negate the effects of an imminent pilot strike got off to a flying start this week, when 6,000 employees held a rally in support of the company.

MEMPHIS: Fed Ex's crisis PR campaign to negate the effects of an imminent pilot strike got off to a flying start this week, when 6,000 employees held a rally in support of the company.

Although the rally will provide a very useful platform from which to build the PR campaign, it had nothing to do with the PR department, according to media relations managing director Greg Rossiter.

'It was all employees,' he said. 'There was no management involvement.' However, an advertising agency FedEx uses - Good Advertising, Memphis - donated several banners and helped to orchestrate the program.

Rossiter said it will be some time before the media relations team can determine the PR value of the rally, which used the slogan 'Absolutely, Positively, Whatever It Takes' to put across the message that the planned pilots' strike will not stop FedEx serving its clients. 'How effective the rally is will depend on the media coverage and the tone of that coverage,' he commented.

He said the event was 'satisfying' to him and gratifying to know that there were many FedEx customers who were in the crowd of more than 6,000.

Cameras from every local TV station were televising live, and the event was taped and will be shown globally over FXTV, the company's closed-circuit TV network. A limited-frequency FM radio station also broadcast the rally.

Organizers used the FedEx website to get the message out about details of the event.

The rally was staged between the company's corporate office in Memphis, and its main hub at Memphis International Airport. And, as staff on the ground demonstrated, FedEx planes landing at the airport got a bird's eye view.

FedEx and its agency Ketchum are planning a vast multi-media PR campaign to counteract the negative publicity brought on by the strike, although they are not yet ready to release details. An inside source said it would 'target many audiences, especially customers,' and that it was 'very involved and very carefully thought out.' Several senior Ketchum executives are staying in Memphis, fine-tuning the crisis PR plan.

The FedEx Pilots Association has threatened a walkout in early December over economic issues. The timing would disrupt Christmas deliveries and FedEx admitted it might have to limit overnight services and rely more on trucks.

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