WASHINGTON: When they were handling media relations for the family of Chandra Levy last summer, Judy Smith and her team at Qorvis Communications devised contingency strategies for every possible ending to the macabre saga. On May 22, they dusted off the one nobody wanted to use, and put it in play.
With the discovery of Levy's remains last month, Qorvis' five-person team leapt back into action, eager to renew interest in the investigation - while protecting the family from a suddenly insatiable press.
"We were prepared for any kind of possible option that came up, said Smith, who had a statement already prepared, and helped pull together reporters for the press conference the police would inevitably hold once the remains were identified as Levy's.
The requests for Levy family appearances are overwhelming at the moment, said Smith, but they are unlikely to be fulfilled anytime soon. "The Levy family has to have time to grieve and get its arms around the death of their daughter, she explained. "They haven't even thought about (media interviews) yet."
Now that Levy's case has been reclassified as a homicide, the Qorvis team is preparing to shift gears once again. "Someone's going to get arrested or get indicted, Smith speculated, "so then you start down the path of going through a trial. We're going to stick with them."
Though media interest in the story dropped off drastically following the attacks on New York and Washington last year, Qorvis had continued working on the account in the interim, using both the six-month and one-year anniversaries of Levy's disappearance to rekindle interest in the still-unsolved case. Smith would not comment on the terms of the contract, except to confirm that it was not a pro bono job.
Also working temporarily for the Levy family last summer was Porter Novelli's Washington, DC office.