Walgreens-Duane Reade deal gets internal and agency PR support

DEERFIELD, IL: Hours after the Walgreens announcement that it will buy drugstore retailer Duane Reade, communications teams on both sides are fielding questions from investors and the media.

DEERFIELD, IL: Hours after the Walgreens announcement that it will buy drugstore retailer Duane Reade, communications teams on both sides are fielding questions from investors and the media.

The deal is valued at $1.1 billion, and includes the takeover of all 257 Duane Reade stores, which are located in the New York City area.

Jim Cohn, media relations manager at Walgreens, said the bulk of the communications was handled in-house, but Sard Verbinnen & Co. also aided PR efforts around the deal.*

The team released the news to media and spread it to staff via e-mail and the company Web site. Cohn said his external relations group had to quickly turn its attention to media outlets, including print, broadcast, and Internet.

“Our main focus today has been connecting analysts in the investment community with the appropriate journalists,” Cohn said.

The team has also been working through social media, with updates posted on Walgreens' Facebook and Twitter pages.

On the Duane Reade side, the retailer enlisted its roster agency, FD, to lead its PR strategy. Oak Hill Capital Partners, which owns Duane Reade, consulted Kekst & Co. for the transaction.

Caren Villarreal, senior director of corporate communications at Duane Reade, said news of the transaction was simultaneously announced internally and externally.

“We released an employee memo and held a town hall meeting,” Villarreal said. She added the company is reaching out to print and broadcast media, as well as bloggers with information about the deal.

Update: Initially, Walgreens' Jim Cohn said all of its PR was handled in-house and information was given to employees first. After the story was published, Cohn let PRWeek know that he was mistaken and the drugstore worked with roster agency Sard Verbinnen & Co. on the deal and that information was in fact released simultaneously to employees and the media per internal procedures.

February 18, 2010, 10:26am

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