WASHINGTON: Parlaying over a decade of work on government exercises and scenarios on the effects of weapons of mass destruction, Ogilvy PR has assembled a core team of five people to run its new high-level crisis service, Counter Threat.The service is designed to help clients anticipate emergency scenarios - including widespread communications and business disruption - that could result from a terrorist attack.
"We saw a sea change in how crisis needed to be handled after September 11,
explained Bob Seltzer, chairman and CEO of Ogilvy PR. "Before that, much of the preparedness for crisis was based on what you might do wrong - an event such as a fire in a plant. This is about how you handle things totally outside your control."
Seltzer said the new practice will use Ogilvy staffers as well as outside consultants to help companies focus on the business consequences of various threats, and then develop the infrastructure and procedures needed to communicate with employees, shareholders, customers, the government, and the public.
SVP Kamer Davis will run the practice. So far, she said, a few government agencies have signed on as clients. "It's not so much being able to predict events,
she explained, "but rather seeing that consequences are going to affect an organization in fairly describable ways."
The new practice will utilize other groups within Ogilvy. The interactive group would build websites and intranets, for example, and clients could also tap into the crisis experience of the 200-person corporate group.
"I think all of us have heard horror stories about companies that docked people's pay on September 12,
said Seltzer. "We're going to help them know the things to do to prepare for a crisis, endure it, and things to do after an event to help employees get comfortable, readjust, and get used to the new world."