Sole PR pro faces Twinkies crisis alone

KANSAS CITY, MO: As a strike by 1,400 New England Teamsters rages on, the Interstate Bakeries Corp. (IBC), maker of Wonder Bread and Twinkies, is facing the press as a company that is, in effect, temporarily out of business in the Northeast.

KANSAS CITY, MO: As a strike by 1,400 New England Teamsters rages on, the Interstate Bakeries Corp. (IBC), maker of Wonder Bread and Twinkies, is facing the press as a company that is, in effect, temporarily out of business in the Northeast.

KANSAS CITY, MO: As a strike by 1,400 New England Teamsters rages

on, the Interstate Bakeries Corp. (IBC), maker of Wonder Bread and

Twinkies, is facing the press as a company that is, in effect,

temporarily out of business in the Northeast.



While the Twinkie approaches its 70th birthday on April 6, it looks like

nostalgic consumers craving a sugar kick will be staring at empty

shelves. It’s a story that the press is eating up - which, unfortunately

for IBC’s lone marketing pro, has made for a difficult few weeks.



IBC SVP of corporate marketing Mark Dirkes, who estimated that he

received 60 press calls last Wednesday alone, said that the company is

taking a ’fairly straightforward, pragmatic approach’ in dealing with

the media about the strike.



’Our objective is not to make this a bloodbath or win points - we want

to settle the labor disputes through bargaining, not the media,’ he

said.



The strike only affects the six New England states, New York, New Jersey

and Pennsylvania, but the press has glommed onto what started out as a

local story and turned it into a nationwide Twinkie crisis. The hysteria

has spread to eBay, which boasts 47 current Twinkie auctions - with one

seller looking for as much as dollars 500 for two boxes of Twinkies in

birthday packaging.



While the Kansas City, MO-based IBC works with several agencies

(Boasberg Wheeler Communications for Hostess PR, the Planet Twinkie Web

site and events; Fleishman-Hillard for crisis communications; and Kuhn

and Witten-born for IR), Dirkes decided to handle press inquiries

without outside assistance.



’I saw this as a fairly straightforward damage control effort,’ he said.



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