Genuity's final days showed PR planning

WOBURN, MA: Genuity's pre-Thanksgiving announcement that it was filing for bankruptcy and would be acquired was not something many would be thankful for.

WOBURN, MA: Genuity's pre-Thanksgiving announcement that it was filing for bankruptcy and would be acquired was not something many would be thankful for.

But John Vincenzo, director of corporate communications, was thankful Genuity's management had him involved from the beginning, making it that much easier to break the news and craft consistent messages for numerous stakeholders. Level 3, a high-speed communications company, will acquire Genuity.

The media had followed the high-speed ISP's financial woes for months.

And internally, the company had been contemplating its future for some time.

So when the news finally hit on November 27, the day the corporate communications team had long prepared for finally arrived.

"From day one, we were kept in the loop," said Vincenzo, who worked with Sitrick & Company to guide Genuity's communications prior to and after the announcement. "We have been continually planning for whatever happened.

We had to make sure that regardless of what happened, there was a consistency of message.

"There's a whole slew of constituencies. There's the media, analysts, employees, investors, partners, customers. We prepared a 30-page binder for our executives so they would know what kind of questions to expect from those constituencies."

Prior to the announcement, Genuity execs kept Vincenzo's team informed as the company negotiated with creditors and considered its options.

"One of the fortunate things is that we were brought in at the outset, instead of being brought in at the 11th hour and told, 'Fix it,'" Vincenzo said.

The company has also maintained good relations with the media and analysts, explained Vincenzo. "Our senior management sees the value in talking to (media and analysts). It wasn't a hard sell at all to get them in front of those audiences."

On the day of the announcement, Vincenzo's team sent out external and internal announcements simultaneously. Corporate communications also sent out a recorded message to all employees, and followed up the announcement with a conference call for employees the Monday after Thanksgiving.

The day of the announcement, aside from calls with analysts and media, management contacted customers and partners, and sent letters to vendors, shareholders, and landlords.

"We've been very proactive," asserted Vincenzo. "Aside from the filing and acquisition, we still wanted everyone to know that we are up and running, and have other news to talk about. This is a change in ownership."

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