New York drug store PR responds to patients' needs after attack

NEW YORK: The Duane Reade drug store chain responded to last week's

crisis by asking its in-house comms staff to produce radio and

television spots telling customers where they could have their

prescriptions filled after 20 of its 193 stores were closed during the

September 11 World Trade Center attack.

The in-house communications staff, in coordination with senior

management, quickly wrote the radio and TV spots that directed

customers - expecting their prescriptions to be filled at one of the

closed stores - to other Duane Reade locations in Manhattan.

The spots also promoted the Duane Reade website, where consumers could

access the telephone numbers of pharmacies or fill emergency

prescriptions by submitting them online. As part of its effort to inform

the public, the in-house team also contacted local media to make it

aware of the emergency prescription service.

On September 12, the commercials aired on New York radio and television

stations, and they'll continue to run until all affected stores have


At press time, all but three stores were back in business. Duane Reade

lost one store that was located on the ground floor of the World Trade

Center, but all employees were able to evacuate to safety.

Jack Cohen, an account representative for Morgen-Walke, the PR agency

that represents Duane Reade, called the spots "humanitarian," and said

that the communications staff had gone to the unusual lengths of writing

the spots themselves because the company wanted customers who might be

in dire need of their prescriptions (such as seniors or patients with

heart conditions) to be aware of the options available to them.

"A press release doesn't reach the average consumer," said Cohen. "The

commercials were rushed out by the communications staff to get the

bare-bones facts out to the public."

The 30-year-old company has been donating prescription drugs, first-aid

supplies, and consumables to hospital and emergency service workers

during the crisis. It announced that because of the tragedy it would

report lower third-quarter earnings than expected.

Duane Reade CEO Anthony J. Cuti issued a statement that read in part,

"It is with great sadness that we reflect upon the tragic events that

took place on September 11, and our deepest sympathy extends to all

those who have been affected."

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