OMAHA, NE: Chicago-based Reputation Partners (RP) is providing communications counsel and tactical assistance to Midwestern department store chain Von Maur following a December 5 shooting spree at an Omaha mall that killed eight people, including six company employees.
On behalf of the Davenport, IA-based Von Maur, an RP client for about two years, RP senior associate Eileen Boyce and VP Megan Hakes flew to Omaha the evening following the shooting to serve as primary media contacts and provide ongoing counsel to Von Maur management.
RP President Nick Kalm told PRWeek that shortly after the shootings he and his staff began advising the company on communications needed for various audiences, from the media, to victims and their families, to other Von Maur employees.
Work included crafting an official media statement and handling the barrage of media inquires from all manner of local and national media, including Good Morning America and CNN. The firm also helped set up a telephone hotline for employee information; and began plans for a private memorial service for victims' families and fellow employees.
Kalm noted that counsel to management included reminding company representatives not to reveal sensitive information about the ongoing police investigation and advice on limiting interaction between traumatized employees and media seeking first-hand accounts of the shootings.
“Part of it was working with local management of the store in terms of what to say, what to do in terms of the media,” Kalm said. “For media that did want to speak with [witnesses], we tried to identify one or more employees we could direct them to. The idea is to remind employees that they don't have to speak to the media and that [they should] try to channel media relations through one focal point.”