SPOKANE, WA: The National Hostage Survival Training Center has hired Weber Shandwick to help the organization expand its visibility beyond government to corporations and academic institutions.
The center, which opened late last year, trains and educates US citizens on how to avoid and, if abducted, survive a hostage situation.
"We have been doing this privately for the government and companies, but we need a center to do the training," said the center's director, Randy Spivey, whose career includes 20 years with the Department of Defense. "We have a lot of knowledge of how to reach out to the federal government. We felt [WS] could help us reach a broader audience."
That audience includes business executives who travel globally, banking professionals, and academic institutions.
Spivey said he wanted an agency with global reach that could help spread the center's message through the media.
"Our message is that we're here to provide hope," said Spivey. "We want people to know they can be trained to handle these situations and not just react in fear."
The center's courses cover such topics as what to do during a rescue attempt, rules for safe travel in foreign countries, and five topics to avoid discussing with an abductor.
WS has focused on media training and speaking opportunities, said VP Brenda South. But the long-term goal is to position the center's leaders as experts. WS recently had the media participate in some of the center's programs to experience the training firsthand.
"We want the media to recognize the huge amount of work [the center's founders] have done in this area, and the leadership and expertise they bring," said South.
She added that the messaging also will point out that 80% of people who are abducted survive, and that the center's training will only improve those odds.