New head of comms leads Blockbuster bankruptcy

DALLAS: Patty Sullivan, the new head of communications for Blockbuster, is leading communications around the company's bankruptcy filing this week, with support from Kekst & Company.

DALLAS: Patty Sullivan, the new head of communications for Blockbuster Inc., is leading communications around the company's bankruptcy filing this week, with support from Kekst & Company.

"It's a multi-pronged approach and it's something that has many stages to it," Sullivan told PRWeek. Sullivan joined the company in July as senior director of corporate communications, and Kekst has also been working with Blockbuster for several months prior to the filing.

Michael Freitag, partner and head of the restructuring and reorganization practice at Kekst, is leading the account, which has a principal team of four, including partner Wendi Kopsick, senior associate Douglas Kiker, and associate Yemi Rose. Sullivan and Freitag declined to provide financial details of the account.

"Patty is leading both internal and external communications around this recapitalization," Freitag stated. "This is an effort that requires a lot of communication with a wide variety of audiences."

The company originally focused on internal communications, preparing its team for the possibility of a bankruptcy filing. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing will only affect US operations, and Blockbuster is working to transform its business model and continue operating.

"Strategically, one of the things we had to do was say, 'If and when this comes to be, what is our approach? What can we say and not say?'" Sullivan said. After the filing, external communications included media relations and consumer outreach.

Hill & Knowlton, which works with Blockbuster on consumer PR, helped with some media relations, Sullivan added, including "a consumer component done in parallel."

The company is using press releases, e-mail marketing, media relations, and a section on its website to inform external audiences about the bankruptcy filing and how it will affect the company. Blockbuster also worked with its employees in the field and provided in-store messaging.

Sullivan said Blockbuster is working to "remind the world that we are open for business and this is just a legal process."

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